Hyundai increases U.S. production to offset lost output in South Korea image

Hyundai’s U.S. dealers have been complaining for some time that their new-car inventories are too small.

Now the South Korean carmaker’s U.S. plants will help them by increasing production. But that’s not the only reason for which Hyundai plants will ramp up manufacturing. Hyundai is preparing for the worst, as next spring, a new labor pact in South Korea could limit the carmaker’s exports to North America.

According to Hyundai Motor America CEO John Krafcik, vehicle production in the U.S. will increase 19 percent from September through December over the same period last year. The additional cars will be made by a third shift added on September 4 at Hyundai’s Alabama plant. As a consequence, U.S. dealers will have at their disposal an extra 20,000 units of the Sonata and Elantra by year end.

Kia Motors’ plant in Georgia will also ramp up production of the 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport from August through December, making 36,600 units compared to 22,800 built a year earlier. The added volume will not only help Hyundai’s U.S. dealers, but also counter the weeks of sporadic work stoppages at Hyundai plants in South Korea.

Because of strikes in its home country, the carmaker lost production of 82,000 vehicles, of which 5,000 to 10,000 would have arrived in the U.S., Krafcik estimated. Hyundai exports from South Korea to the United States the Genesis sedan, Accent subcompact, Veloster sporty coupe and Tucson crossover.