Hyundai's Newest Crossover Has Hit a Snag

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

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]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Quaquaqua Quaquaqua on May 22, 2017

    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?

  • 4drSedan 4drSedan on May 22, 2017

    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.

  • JK I grew up with Dodge trucks in the US, and now live in Turin, Italy, the home of Fiat. I don't think Italians view this as an Italian company either. There are constant news articles and protests about how stalantis is moving operations out of Italy. Jeep is strangely popular here though. I think last time I looked at stelantis's numbers, Jeep was the only thing saving them from big big problems.
  • Bd2 Oh yeah, funny how Trumpers (much less the Orange Con, himself) are perfectly willing to throw away the Constitution...
  • Bd2 Geeze, Anal sure likes to spread his drivelA huge problem was Fisher and his wife - who overspent when they were flush with cash and repeatedly did things ad hoc and didn't listen to their employees (who had more experience when it came to auto manufacturing, engineering, etc).
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