SEOUL, April 9 (Yonhap) -- Hyundai Motor Co. and its affiliate Kia Motors Corp. said Thursday they will extend the suspension of their plants in the United States amid the spread of the coronavirus.
Hyundai Motor suspended its plant in Alabama on March 18 (local time) after one of its employees there was infected with COVID-19.
The maker of the Sonata sedan and the Santa Fe sport utility vehicle will extend the suspension to May 1 to help prevent the spread of the virus and keep inventories at manageable levels, a Hyundai spokesman said.
Early this week, an employee at the Alabama plant died of the coronavirus, though the company did not provide details on whether the deceased was the worker diagnosed with COVID-19 last month.
Kia Motors also plans to halt its Georgia plant until April 24, extended from the previous suspension period from March 30 to this Friday, a Kia spokesman said.
Kia had planned to resume operations at the U.S. plant next Monday.
The maker of the K5 sedan and the Telluride SUV had already halted the U.S. plant once from March 19-20 due to a lack of engines assembled and delivered from affiliate Hyundai Motor's Alabama plant.
Hyundai and Kia together form the world's fifth-biggest carmaker by sales. They are major affiliates of South Korea's Hyundai Motor Group.
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 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.
Currently, the two carmakers operate plants in South Korea and China, but most of their overseas plants have been suspended, except for Kia's plant in Slovakia.
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