Hyundai Idles U.S. Production After Worker Falls Ill
Hyundai Motor America has ceased production at its Montgomery, Alabama assembly plant after a worker tested positive for coronavirus. Unlike the temporary production shutdowns by Honda, Nissan, and the Detroit Three, Hyundai’s idle period seems to be reactionary, not proactive.
That said, the automaker plants to use the downtime to add to its laundry list of measures aimed at protecting workers.
“HMMA is suspending production in all areas, for all shifts, beginning on Wednesday, March 18, 2020,” the automaker stated, without giving an exact timeline on when production will restart.
Home to the Elantra, Santa Fe, and Sonata, HMMA employs just over 3,000 workers.
The company’s Alabama plant “has already deployed additional sanitation measures across the entire facility and will now follow ADPH’s protocols for disinfecting the affected work area,” Hyundai said, adding that it will consult with the CDC and Alabama Department of Public Health to see if there’s anything else it should do.
Already, the automaker was following the sudden industry norm of assigning white-collar employees work-from-home time, with the assembly floor gloor gaining health-related signage and disinfectants. Public tours have been called off and the inflow of visitors restricted. Travel out of the country is forbidden.
Those measures filtered down to things like vehicle reveals (the 2021 Elantra debuted online) and additional prcleaning of its press fleet. Dealers aren’t exempt from coronavirus-fighting measures, either. Besides the usual disinfectant regimen and social distancing practices (no hugs or handshakes; customers and staff maintaining knife-fight distances), dealers stand to gain deferred floorplan interest, increased incentive, “and other accommodations for dealers who finance their floorplan with Hyundai Finance.”
Hyundai succeeded in gaining ground in the U.S. market last year on the strength of new crossover models, leaving the still-recent sales slump in the rear-view. Despite the optimism expressed at the beginning of the year, it’s doubtful anyone at Hyundai HQ expects a continued climb in 2020.
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