By Choi Kyong-ae
SEOUL, May 4 (Yonhap) -- Hyundai Motor Co. and its affiliate Kia Motors Corp. said Monday their U.S. plants will resume operations this week after taking thorough quarantine measures to guard against the new coronavirus.
Hyundai and Kia plan to restart production at their plants in Alabama and Georgia, respectively, on May 4 (local time) and flexibly operate the plants "depending on the COVID-19 developments and local market conditions," a company spokesman said over the phone.
Hyundai has suspended the Alabama plant since March 18 when one of its local employees was diagnosed with the novel coronavirus. Kia has halted the Georgia plant since March 30 due to lack of engine supplies from Hyundai's Alabama plant.
The maker of the Sonata sedan and the Santa Fe sport-utility vehicle has suspended most of its overseas plants to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and keep inventories at manageable levels. All of its domestic plants have not been in operation from April 30.
It has seven domestic plants 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, which is 34 percent owned by Hyundai, has eight domestic passenger vehicle 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.
It plans to suspend four out of the eight domestic factories for a certain period of time between April and May to manage inventories. Most of its overseas plants are not in operation, with the suspension of its Mexico plant recently extended.
But the two carmakers' plants in China are in operation though they have yet to return to full production.
From January to April, they sold a combined 339,254 vehicles in the U.S., down 15 percent from 396,793 units in the year-ago period.
"The COVID-19 global pandemic significantly disrupted the U.S. auto industry in April. We look forward to supporting our dealers and customers as cities, counties and states slowly reopen, and we begin returning to work after this tragic pandemic," Vice President Randy Parker in charge of national sales at Hyundai Motor America said in a statement.
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