By on May 22, 2017


Hyundai, which found itself lagging behind its rivals in the lucrative crossover and SUV market and figured it should do something about it, is having trouble getting its desperately needed subcompact crossover into production.

The 2018 Kona, which we’ve so far seen only a portion of, is part of a better-late-than-never product push by the Korean automaker. A new small crossover was needed to to mine a growing segment and boost Hyundai’s flagging U.S. sales, but the reality of building cars in Korea has thrown up a roadblock.

According to The Korea Herald, labor strife at the company’s Ulsan Plant 1 threatens to delay the launch of the little money maker.

Company management and labor officials are currently battling over the many elements of Kona production, including the sourcing of parts, working hours, and the number of workers devoted to the vehicle’s production. The spark that lit the flame was Hyundai’s decision to outsource the Kona’s bumpers in the interests of efficiency and quality, triggering a backlash from workers.

The automaker can’t seem to catch a break lately. Last year the company took a financial hit after striking workers in Korea curtailed production of several models, while its U.S. sales woes relate to its lack of a fleshed-out utility lineup. Chinese Hyundai sales have fallen precipitously after the country agreed to the placement of U.S.-supplied defensive missiles as defense against a North Korean attack.

Meanwhile, the automaker is under investigation on both sides of the Pacific for its roll-out of recalls for older models equipped with potentially debris-clogged engines.

For the Kona, the labor strife could prove costly. The vehicle’s overseas launch was expected later this year, with U.S. customers scheduled to get their hands on one in early 2018. Now, the plan has reportedly flown out the window.

A Hyundai representative told The Korea Herald the Kona’s production schedule has been halted.

[Image: Hyundai]

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9 Comments on “Hyundai’s Newest Crossover Has Hit a Snag...”

  • avatar

    When did selling “only” three CUVs put you behind the curve….geezzusss.
    Toyota has what 3 themselves right? Ok they do offer 3 other SUVs as well.
    Honda offers how many? 3 right…so I dont get it.
    They dont have to be BMW and offer one thing for everyone.

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge

      You need at least three. Part of the problem is that they haven’t had a subcompact crossover. The other part is that Hyundai haven’t been able to make enough crossovers. Until recently, they only had one US plant making crossovers. Now that West Point and Montgomery are making the Santa Fe Sport, they should have more product.

      • 0 avatar

        Thanks. I did not think of the supply constraint that I knew they had at some point. I guess if they change the name of the middle child to something else and create a sub compact CUV the would be fine.
        WHich sells more anyway the Santa Fe or the SPort. I would change the name of the least seller to Veracruz.

  • avatar

    So maybe it has nothing to do with it but I believe some of Hyundai’s difficulty here lie in the naming of the Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport. While I understand that they share a lot, they cover two distinct segments and should carry two different names. Hyundai currently covers most of the crossover market but the casual shopper may not know it because their 2 row midsize CUV and 3 row large CUV have the same name. Hyundai used to have the 3 row Veracruz but it wasn’t a huge success so they decided to leverage the, more popular, Santa Fe, instead. Mistake. This rarely works. Outlander/Outlander Sport? Pathfinder/Pathfinder Armada? Taurus/Taurus X. I understand the challenge to build the name recognition for a new model or one that is not well known. Still, things get worse when you lump two cars together with the same name. (There is one exception. Land Rover manages to mix and match between Range and Land with a couple Sports thrown in without much harm. I’m not sure how they do it. I figure that most buyers are looking for the badge and will spend as much as they can afford without truly understanding the differences and similarities.

  • avatar

    The 2018 Kona will be late to market due to artillery fire over the DMZ.

  • avatar

    Hyundai needs to learn from Detroit. Just take an Accent, put a wagon extension on it, jack up the suspension a couple inches, and give it AWD. That’s how Detroit made wagons out of sedans, and all SUVs and CUVs are just wagons on high heels, and AWD=rompers. With the husband wearing a Romphim, and his wife wearing a Rompher, call it a Rompit!

  • avatar

    Why is Hyundai being taken to task for having “only” three CUVs? Am I missing something here? Subcompact CUVs are a growing market, but they’re not exactly lighting the world on fire. The new Tucson has hit at exactly the right time and it (and the Santa Fe Sport) are selling better than ever. Hyundai’s only issue is the big daddy Santa Fe is often ignored, probably because it’s hard to tell apart from the cheaper Sport. They’re fixing that with the next generation, which will be out soon enough, but it’s not like the Santa Fe Sport stuck around as long as the freakin’ Equinox has. For the record, Chevy also only has three CUVs, and the Trax sucks, so where’s the thinkpiece on their lack of product?

  • avatar

    FWIW I’ll be kinda pissed if the name “Kona” becomes primarily associated with products other than Coffee and Bicycles…especially if it’s a Hyundai cute ute.

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