Hyundai Further Reduces Production Schedule

An unfinished Hyundai Sonata makes its way down the assembly line.
An unfinished Hyundai Sonata makes its way down the assembly line.

Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama has added an additional seven days of idle time to its production schedule in an effort to realign itself with projected North American sales.

That announcement brings Montgomery's Hyundai automobile production plant  to a halt for a total of ten days.

In addition to the three idle days already announced for Fridays in October, the new round of idle days will occur sometime between November and December.

Hyundai officials stress that the plan is tentative and could change with market conditions saying, "While we are encouraged with the strong sales of the Santa Fe, Sonata sales are down slightly....HMMA's ability to be flexible allows us to consider the well-being of our Team Members and adjust to our customer's needs while remaining competitive."

It's a simple fact of the automotive industry, the market is down right now.

Some companies are feeling it more than others, and the hometown car maker is one of them.

Hyundai's sales are down almost 25% from this time last year, and that's translating into fewer hours for workers.

Some of Hyundai's critics say it's the company's fault, pointing to two different CEOs in the last 14 months, at least two different ad agencies in the last year.

According to one major local Hyundai contractor Korean leaders are rejecting American business practices. "Our contract, even though we've been in operation since, has yet to be signed by the Koreans."

The latest sales figures show Hyundai's two biggest sellers, the Sonata and the Elantra, are also the biggest disappointments this year.

Dealer Bob Merideth says the Elantra's problems are easy to track - he can't get many from Korea, even though it was a hot seller.  "We were selling 30-35 , 25, 30, every month, now, our availability isn't close to that.  Part of it was due to the strikes in Korea," says Meredith.

Nationally, the Sonata is down even more.

Like the Elantra, those four cylinder engines are built in Korea.

Hyundai now plans to produce those same engines here, and Merideth says the company has already adjusted its Korean quotas for export.

Meredith says, "If they can do more four cylinders, and they can, I think demand will be there and we'll sell more cars."

Hyundai says it is talking to other suppliers to replace Johnson Controls Incorporated, the company that makes interior parts for the local plant.

Johnson Controls did not return multiple phone calls to its headquarters.