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(LEAD) Hyundai suspends India plant amid virus fear

Autos 14:08 March 23, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS background and stock prices in paras 6-13)

SEOUL, March 23 (Yonhap) -- Hyundai Motor Co., South Korea's biggest carmaker by sales, said Monday it has suspended its plant in India due to the spreading coronavirus outbreak.

The Chennai plant's suspension comes as the Indian government ordered most manufacturing facilities in 75 regions affected by the COVID-19 outbreak to stop operations, a company spokesperson said.

Hyundai said it will suspend operations of the 650,000-unit-a-year plant by the end of this month in line with the local government's guidelines.

Kia Motors Corp, which is 34 percent owned by Hyundai, is also expected to stop operations of its 300,000-unit-a-year Anandapur plant sooner or later.

Last week, Hyundai and Kia halted most of their plants in the United States and Europe to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in line with strict movement bans and lockdowns.

This undated file photo provided by Hyundai Motor shows the carmaker's assembly line at its plant in Chennai, India. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

Hyundai suspended its Alabama plant in the U.S. on March 18 (local time) after one of its employees there was infected with the coronavirus. On the following day, Kia halted its Georgia factory in the U.S. due to a lack of engines assembled and delivered from Hyundai's Alabama plant.

The carmakers said they will decide when to resume the plants' operations through consultations with the U.S. health authorities.

On top of their U.S. suspension, Hyundai and Kia on Monday suspended their plants in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, respectively, with the suspension expected to last for two weeks through April 3 due to virus-caused supply disruptions.

Hyundai's plant in Turkey is still in operation. Hyundai has two plants and Kia has one in Europe.

Hyundai has seven domestic plants -- five in Ulsan, one in Asan and one in Jeonju -- and 10 overseas plants -- four in China and one each in the United States, the Czech Republic, Turkey, Russia, India and Brazil. Their combined capacity reaches 5.5 million vehicles.

Kia has eight domestic plants -- two in Gwangmyeong, three in Hwaseong and three in Gwangju -- and seven overseas ones -- three in China and one each in the U.S., Slovakia, Mexico and India. Their overall capacity is 3.84 million units.

Hyundai and Kia, which together form the world's fifth-biggest carmaker by sales, sold 7.19 million autos globally last year and aim to sell 7.54 million units this year.

Shares in Hyundai fell 2.4 percent to 69,400 won and Kia plunged 7.5 percent to 22,350 won as of 1:50 p.m., in line with the broader KOSPI's 3.6 percent loss.

kyongae.choi@yna.co.kr
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