By on April 13, 2020

South Korea is often held up as an example of how to manage the coronavirus the right way. However, the country’s success in limiting the spread of COVID-19 hasn’t allowed it to escape the economic realities of the pandemic sweeping the world beyond its borders.

As countries around the globe close up shop, demand for the country’s vehicles has fallen precipitously. Kia Motors has a choice to make.

As reported by Reuters, Kia, despite having its manufacturing base located in a country that has largely avoided the disruptions seen elsewhere, might idle production at three assembly plants to bring output in line with reduced overseas demand.

It’s a move that represents a new phase of the pandemic: when countries that once idled production to get their own outbreak under control now have to shut things down to respond to outbreaks elsewhere. With Europe and North America in the grip of the virus and new vehicle sales plummeting to queasy new lows, there’s not much need for new product in overseas inventories.

On Monday, the automaker reportedly told its labor union of the plant shutdown plan, eyeing an idle period lasting from April 23rd to 29th. In classic South Korea fashion, however, the union’s apparently refusing to sign off on the action. There are pay negotiations ongoing.

“Kia Motors is currently reviewing the suspension of some of its plants in Korea in response to declining global demand due to COVID-19,” the automaker said in a statement. “However, a decision has not been made at this time.”

For what it’s worth, Kia Sales in the U.S. shot up 8 percent last year, buoyed by the immediate success of the midsize, U.S.-built Telluride crossover. It’s also worth noting that, even though the U.S. began shutting down businesses and ordering people indoors in the middle of March, Kia managed to outpace last year’s sales tally in the first quarter of 2020.

[Image: Kia Motors]

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29 Comments on “New Pandemic Phase: Kia Considers Shutting Off the Domestic Taps...”

  • avatar

    It is pretty easy to control a virus with a country with the geographic size of Indiana. To suggest that S. Korea did a great job with this virus compared to the US is to forget that we have 49 other geographic areas that South Korea doesn’t have. In fact, S. Korea is pretty much just a state with a governor. It may think it is a country, but it is a remarkably tiny area compared to the US. I could cherry pick a state that did as well as S. Korea and it would make S. Korea seem like a poorly managed country with regard to the virus.

    • 0 avatar

      “I could cherry pick a state that did as well as S. Korea”

      I’m actually not sure that you could. Not one with equivalent population.

      Now, there are other factors at play – different societal values, homogeneity, US states have less ability to enact certain policies than S Korea does, ubiquity of high-speed internet and connectivity, etc. But S Korea *has* used those advantages pretty effectively for the moment.

      To an extent I’m not even sure that a super-flat curve *now* is a big advantage unless a vaccine comes down the pike relatively quickly, because even if you have zero cases right now, you’re going to constantly be just as at risk as you were at the beginning of the epidemic, meaning you can’t leverage that success to re-enable economic activity anyway.

      Sometimes things just suck.

    • 0 avatar

      Aside from California I don’t really think you could.

      The US as a nation did a terrible job, and doubly so considering we had a 60 day head-start to address it. This isn’t surprising considering pretty much everyone knows Trump’s response has been a near perfect model of incompetence and he can’t just pay money to make this go away like the adult entertainment stars he slept with.

      • 0 avatar

        @ bkojote
        “Trump’s response has been a near perfect model of incompetence” Only to far left loons. Anyone with common sense knows he and his advisors and team are doing a pretty good job. Especially considering they have a media which lies about and distorts the work they are doing and is constantly attacking everything the President does. Couple that with an entire political party bent on using this as a way to push their radical leftist destructive agenda.

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          The amount of misinformation and excuse making is mind boggling.

          It is harder to control the virus in a densely populated environment like South Korea (or NYC) than in a spread out, less densely populated area, such as most of the rest of the USA.

          Trump has badly mishandled the crisis. Hence the USA having about 5x the percentage of deaths compared to its percentage of the global population, to date.

          Totally unacceptable for the nation with the highest GDP on the planet.

          His only action for the first 6 weeks was to put a partial ban on travel from China to the USA. Not as he has claimed a ‘total’ ban. He ignored the existing pandemic plan. He ignored the warnings of public health experts. Acted much later than most other national leaders. And repeatedly lied to or misled the American public. Track his public statements, they are common knowledge. Finally he unlike a true leader has repeatedly refused to accept any responsibility. He has been in power for over 3 years, blaming his predecessors is a facile and juvenile tactic. It was Trump’s administration that reduced the number of American public health officials/researchers based in China to track such occurrences.

          The USA will now unfortunately, largely due to his incompetence may now lose more citizens to COVID than it lost in the Vietnam War.

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            Well at least those that make it home from the hospital after recovering from Covid-19 won’t have to worry about some Lefty spitting on them like the poor schlep coming back from Nam’.

            Trump will get his at the ballot box but lets not pretend that blaming the last guy is a new thing in DC. Clinton blamed Bush, Bush the Younger Blamed Clinton. Obama Blamed Bush. Trump blames Obama. Biden or whomever they can maybe hopefully replace him with will blame Trump.

          • 0 avatar
            cimarron typeR

            Ummm, our US death rate percentage as per those infected is 25th (higher is better) . Better than the famed oft compared to US healthcare British which is over 11(staggeringly poor or NHS)%. The US is one of the best countries to be critically ill.

          • 0 avatar

            Thanks largely to a prime minister of similar temperament to Trump, the British got just as late a start on their response as we did.

            Countries that have done a legitimately good job with COVID: Taiwan, Germany, South Korea, Hong Kong SAR (in spite of the parent government). We and the British are both somewhere in the mushy middle, and we’d be much worse off than that if it hadn’t been for decisive action by a bunch of blue-state governments (and, in fairness, a couple of red-state outliers as well).

          • 0 avatar

            “Thanks largely to a prime minister of similar temperament to Trump, the British got just as late a start on their response as we did.”

            A prime minister, I might add, who didn’t believe in the seriousness of this until it landed him in intensive care.

            he changed his tune real quick after that. But, that’s typical. It’s no big deal until it affects me, then it becomes a critical emergency.

        • 0 avatar

          Anyone lacking medical knowledge and almost exclusively watches Fauxed Newz influence peddlers(Hannity, Pirro, et al) knows he and his advisors and team are doing a pretty good job.

          There, fixed it for you!

          • 0 avatar

            It’s amazing how many of Rush Limbaugh’s Dittoheads know so much about lefties and “libs”, while not knowing anything firsthand. Falling for the propaganda hook, line and sinker is lazy at best; worse than that, it results in extremely poor political leadership for our country.

        • 0 avatar

          “Anyone with common sense knows he and his advisors and team are doing a pretty good job.”

          Huh. I’m sure your definition of “common sense” is “agrees with what you believe.”

          “There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”

          ― Issac Asimov

        • 0 avatar



          Everything you attribute to the media is exactly what Drumpf, his cronies, Faux News and Rush have been doing.

          “It’s just the common cold…” – Limbaugh

          Jan. 22: “We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China. We have it under control. It’s going to be just fine.” — Trump in a CNBC interview.

          Feb. 10: “Now, the virus that we’re talking about having to do — you know, a lot of people think that goes away in April with the heat — as the heat comes in. Typically, that will go away in April. We’re in great shape though. We have 12 cases — 11 cases, and many of them are in good shape now.” — Trump at the White House.

          Feb. 24: “The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA. We are in contact with everyone and all relevant countries. CDC & World Health have been working hard and very smart. Stock Market starting to look very good to me!” — Trump in a tweet.

          Feb. 26: “And again, when you have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero, that’s a pretty good job we’ve done.” — Trump at a press conference.

          Feb. 27: “It’s going to disappear. One day — it’s like a miracle — it will disappear.” — Trump at a White House meeting with African American leaders.

          March 10: “And we’re prepared, and we’re doing a great job with it. And it will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away.” — Trump after meeting with Republican senators.

          No surprise, this INEPT administration has bungled the response every which way from the start.

          Unlike the Liar-in-Chief’s claims, we weren’t even close to being prepared.

          And he made things WORSE by donating TONS of desperately needed masks, respirators, gloves, etc. to China w/o replenishing the supply/cache.

          During that 2 month period when the country should have been getting ready, American producers of the needed medical equipment were selling their goods to China.

          That’s why in California, along w/ Wash, being the earliest hit by the virus, hospitals refused to give tests to nurses in the front-line who had been treating Covid-19 patients AND were showing SYMPTOMS.

          From the very start, the Drumpf administration had CUT funding for pandemic response, did away w/ the NSC office for pandemic response, got rid of the CDC outposts (including China) which were to serve as “canary bird in the mine”, and so on and so on…

    • 0 avatar

      Actually, the OPPOSITE is true.

      Not including city-states (like Singapore) and the like, SKorea has the 3rd highest population density in the world w/ 85% of the pop. living in urban/metro areas, w/ HALF the pop. (25.5 million) living in the Seoul metro area, the 4th most populous metro area in the world.

      The NYC metro area is 9th w/ a pop. of 19.3 million.

      Viruses spread more easily in areas of high pop. density. esp. where PUBLIC transport is the main means of transportation (as it is in Seoul and NYC).

      That’s the reason why NYC has been the hardest hit out of all the areas in the US, and why places like Montana have seen limited spreading of the virus.

      Meanwhile, Seoul recently reported its 1st death fro Covid-19 a couple of days ago.

      Despite super-spreader incidences from a mega-Church, SKorea has managed to bend the curve via wide-spread testing, contact tracing and the use of an app which informs people the places where those who have tested positive have been to.

      And they did this WITHOUT having any lock-downs and w/o banning travel, including from China.

      Many of the new cases are from people coming/returning from the US and Europe, but they TEST everybody who passes thru customs.

      The state which arguably has done the best job of mitigating the spread of the coronavirus is California, but it required implementing pretty drastic shelter-at-home measures.

      SKorea was able to bend-the-curve w/o taking such drastic measures.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    How will a 1-week shutdown make a meaningful difference with managing inventory? They will need much more down time than that.

  • avatar

    “South Korea is often held up as an example of how to manage the coronavirus the right way.’ Umm according to whom? Hyundai and Kia fanboys don’t count.

    • 0 avatar

      Teddy, whether you like it or not, South Korea has minimized the number of new cases and deaths due to COVID-19.

      I run clinical trials for a large pharma. The Koreans are open for new studies. The US and Europe are not. It all has to do with managing coronavirus cases.

      It’s that simple.

      • 0 avatar

        As of now, South Korea has 206 cases per million people.
        The USA has 1779 per million. Their situation is under control. We’re still struggling with ours.

    • 0 avatar

      According to anyone who can read a table of numbers, which is admittedly hard for many on Team Orange.

      • 0 avatar

        And the super-spreader incident(s) in Korea were due to a mega-church.

        Closer to home, one of the super-spreader incidents in Wash. state was from a choir practice.

        Seems like the Governors of Texas, Florida and even Ohio (which largely has done a vert good job of mitigation) don’t learn from the experiences of others as they have classified houses of worship as “essential businesses.”

        • 0 avatar

          “Seems like the Governors of Texas, Florida and even Ohio (which largely has done a vert good job of mitigation) don’t learn from the experiences of others as they have classified houses of worship as ‘essential businesses.\'”

          heh, funny little sound bite I saw on Twitter?

          “Oh, they’re businesses? Great, tax them.”

    • 0 avatar

      Pretty much everyone who isn’t a complete moron and ignoramus.

      Taiwan has done a very good job as well, so can use that if you are too petty to use the Korea example.

  • avatar

    So what kind of leverage do I have if I’m in the Market for a new Kia?

  • avatar

    From USA Today Feb 17, 2020: “Fauci doesn’t want people to worry about coronavirus, the danger of which is “just minuscule.” But he does want them to take precautions against the “influenza outbreak, which is having its second wave.”

    From San Francisco KPIX TV Feb 24, 2020: “It’s exciting to be here, especially at this time,” said Pelosi as she walked surrounded by media and onlookers. “To be able to be unified with our community……..
    You should come to Chinatown. Precautions have been taken by our city. We know that there is concern about tourism all throughout the world, but we think it’s very safe to be in Chinatown. I hope that others will come,” said Pelosi…”

    From on March 2, 2020: “Cuomo emphasized that while coronavirus is concerning, it’s not as grave a threat as other illnesses such as ebola or influenza.”
    “De Blasio reinforced the governor’s stance that the coronavirus leaves healthy New Yorkers with nothing to fear but that those with exhibiting flu-like symptoms and have a “nexus” to affected countries.”

    From “The View” March 24, 2020: “Are you at all concerned, as Trump said, that we cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself?” Haines asked.
    Biden noted in his reply that the COVID-19 cure “will make the problem worse, no matter what.”

    A good number of Dems didn’t like the early steps Trump did take, like the China travel restrictions.

  • avatar

    cprescott pick up a book. South Korea is 50 million people, that’s a sixth of the US. quit watching Sean Hannity. It’s making you dumb

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