By Choi Kyong-ae
SEOUL, April 7 (Yonhap) -- Hyundai Motor Co. and its affiliate Kia Motors Corp. said Tuesday they have suspended half of their overseas plants due to the spreading new coronavirus outbreak.
Six out of Hyundai's 10 overseas plants and three out of Kia's seven overseas factories are not in operation in line with local governments' efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
In the latest development, Hyundai has extended the suspension of its plant in Russia, which was originally scheduled to resume production on Monday after a nine-day nationwide holiday.
Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin extended the paid holiday period until April 30.
"The company has not decided until when it will halt the Russian plant following the Russian government's latest guidance," a Hyundai spokesman said by phone.
Hyundai currently operates seven domestic plants and four plants in China, while halting production at its plants in the United States, the Czech Republic, Turkey, Russia, India and Brazil. Its plants' overall capacity reaches 5.5 million vehicles.
Hyundai suspended its plant in Alabama on March 18 (local time) after one of its employees there was infected with COVID-19. It said on Monday that an employee at the Alabama plant died of the virus, without saying whether the deceased is the worker diagnosed last month.
The Alabama plant is scheduled to resume operations next Monday, though there may be a change, Hyundai said.
Kia operates eight domestic plants and three factories in China for now, while its plants in the U.S., Mexico and India are suspended. Its total output capacity is 3.84 million units.
Kia halted its factory in Georgia once from March 19-20 (local time) due to a lack of engines assembled and delivered from Hyundai Motor's Alabama plant.
The company once again stopped the Georgia plant on March 30 and plans to keep the suspension until April 10.
Still, Kia resumed operations at its plant in Slovakia on Monday following a 14-day suspension.
"The resumption was possible as the country has reported few cases of the coronavirus," the spokesman said. But the plant's operations are expected to face a suspension if the coronavirus crisis prolongs without signs of slowing.
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