Hyundai Motor shifts focus to the domestic market

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Hyundai Motor shifts focus to the domestic market

Hyundai Motor could reduce its production for export as the coronavirus outbreak has lowered the demand for its cars overseas.

The largest automaker in Korea said Monday that Hyundai Motor management is in discussion with its union to cut back production on its models for export. The company is much more focused on assembling cars for domestic sales, which actually was up last month.

Hyundai Motor’s overseas sale last month dipped 26 percent from the same month a year earlier to around 236,323 units. All of Hyundai Motor’s overseas auto assembly plants have been closed due to the coronavirus outbreak, except its four in China.

The overseas plants are expected to stay closed at least through April 14, but it is uncertain at this point whether those factories could resume operations considering the fact that the coronavirus pandemic is growing on all continents.

Last month, Hyundai Motor’s domestic sales rose 3 percent on-year to 72,180 units. The company said the domestic sale hike was largely due to the popularity of already high-selling models, including the Palisade SUV, the GV80 SUV and the Grandeur mid-size sedan.

Hyundai Motor is around 70 percent reliant on exports for its total sales, but in today’s environment, where overseas factories are closed and consumers stay home, Hyundai Motor is making a bet on its domestic sales to stay strong.

Sales could remain strong for April as well, as the new Avante compact sedan recorded more than 10,000 orders in the first day.

While Hyundai Motor did not elaborate on how it would reposition workers if it reached a deal with its workers on cutting back on car production for exports, it is likely that the automaker will increase operating rate for auto assembly lines for domestic volume and position more workers there with shift schedules.

Hyundai Motor’s domestic production could falter on shortages of auto parts from Europe. Hyundai Motor said Monday that at the moment there is no immediate concern as to acquiring auto parts from Europe in manufacturing some vehicles.

SsangYong Motor said Thursday it started partial closure of its factory in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi, for this month on shortages of transmissions and engine parts from European manufacturers, including Continental and Bosch Auto Parts.

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