GM Korea shuts factory as the supply lines thin

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GM Korea shuts factory as the supply lines thin

GM Korea is temporarily halting operations at one of its three car assembly plants as the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak threatens the steady supply of auto parts.

The Korean unit of General Motors said Wednesday that it is closing its Bupyeong factory in Incheon on Feb. 17 and 18 because of delays in the arrival of auto parts, including wiring harnesses, from China.

The factory will resume operations on Feb. 19.

The decision by GM Korea follows Hyundai Motor, Kia Motors, Renault Samsung Motors and SsangYong Motor shutting their factories temporarily as a result of supply shortages.

The automaker said while it hasn’t actually experienced supply shortages yet as a result of the virus outbreak, production was suspended to maintain timing if supply lines do get thin.

GM Korea relies on auto parts including wiring harnesses from China.

As the virus spread, Chinese authorities ordered manufacturers to stop operations until last Sunday, effectively extending the end of its Lunar New Year holidays. The virus has killed more than 1,100 people in mainland China as of Wednesday morning.

GM Korea has three auto assembly plants in Korea, two of them in Incheon and the other one in Changwon, South Gyeongsang.

The two-day suspension of the Bupyeong plant means that GM Korea will experience production delays for the Chevrolet Trailblazer SUV. As a result, deliveries could be delayed more than two weeks.

Although a GM Korea spokesperson declined to reveal exact numbers to date, Trailblazer sales have been strong since it was released last month. GM Korea received more than 1,000 Trailblazer orders in just two days from Jan. 16.

Last year, GM Korea sold a total of 417,226 vehicles, down 9.9 percent from 462,871 units posted in 2018.

BY KO JUN-TAE [ko.juntae@joongang.co.kr]

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