New Pandemic Phase: Kia Considers Shutting Off the Domestic Taps

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

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]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Imnormlurnot Imnormlurnot on Apr 14, 2020

    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.

  • JD-Shifty JD-Shifty on Apr 15, 2020

    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

  • Redapple2 Love/lust a 110 diesel defender. Should buy one since the INEOS is gas only (and double the price). Had a lightweight in Greece. Wonder how this rides.
  • Ajla There is inventory on the ground but as pointed out it is generally high dollar trims of high-dollar models and at least around here dealers still aren't budging off their mandatory nitrogen tires and Summer weather protection packages.You aren't paying '21-'22 prices anymore but it's still a long way to go.
  • Slavuta Every electric car must come with a film about lithium mining
  • Sobhuza Trooper Drop a good, high-strung German engine in this and you'd have American flair with German repair costs!
  • Kwik_Shift I'll just drive my Frontier into the ground as planned. Possibly find an older "fun" car to collect.