In February of this year, the coronavirus pandemic forced Hyundai Motor Company to idle production at most of its factories in South Korea. The Chinese suppliers that provided wiring harnesses for models like the Hyundai Palisade and Genesis GV80 hadn't recovered from their COVID-19 shutdowns, causing a shortage of components. Since then, Hyundai, along with automakers around the globe, has faced repeated hurdles to restoring desired production numbers. Just-Auto reports another hiccup, with Hyundai compelled to shut down lines that build the Palisade and GV80 at its Ulsan, South Korea complex again last week over a lack of parts. Just-Auto didn't specify the parts in question.
On top of that, Hyundai had already idled three lines at two plants after an employee at a supplier died, the cause of death thought to be COVID-19. Kia needed to do the same for two entire facilities in South Korea after two plant workers were diagnosed with the illness. In the U.S., Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama was idled from March 18 to May 4, resuming production at lower output on May 4 to manage inventory after the coronavirus and lockdown measures gutted new car sales.
Hyundai, like giant Ford and tiny McLaren, will be ruing the lost momentum of its recovery. The group turned in its best quarterly profit since 2017 at the end of last year, thanks to the larger margins that crossovers and SUVs deliver. Hyundai brand U.S. sales last year of 688,771 units was tantalizing close to an annual sum the brand hasn't hit since 2012. In January, the automaker predicted it would improve on last year's 3.5% group operating profit margin by hitting 5% this year. The nearly 10,000 reservations taken for the GV80 fueled the optimism, when Genesis sold just over 21,000 vehicles in total last year in the U.S. However, through the first quarter, group sales were down 11% globally and in the U.S. Worse, Just-Auto says the group's global sales have nosedived 26% through the first five months. The production halts on the models that deliver the best return will prolong the pain and make it sharper.