South Korean Automakers Cut Production

Weak demand is cause

All three of South Korea's major automakers on Dec. 1 began cutting production, reporting weak sales amid slow demand.

Top automaker Hyundai Motor said it started cutting daily overtime at all domestic plants, the first such cut at all plants since the 1998 financial crisis. The move will lead to a monthly production cut of 20,000 vehicles, about 13% of Hyundai Motor's average domestic monthly production of 150,000.

Hyundai had earlier stopped weekend overtime at its local plants.

Its sister company Kia Motors said one assembly line was suspended from Dec. 1 and overtime was banned at two other lines.

The local unit of General Motors has announced a one-month shutdown of its main plant at Bupyeong starting Monday and lasting till January 4. It was the first such shutdown since GM took over Daewoo in 2002. Production at GM Daewoo's other plants will be suspended for two weeks from December 22 to January 4. The carmakers said the assembly lines most affected were those producing gas-guzzling SUVs, RVs or large sedans, whose sales had been much slower than energy-efficient compact models.

Hyundai reported its November sales fell 1.6% year-on-year to 234,211 units. Kia's November sales dropped 3% year-on-year to 133,507. GM Daewoo said its November sales plunged 28.8% from a year earlier to 62,256 vehicles.

South Korea's two other auto manufacturers -- Renault Samsung Motors and SsangYong Motor -- have already cut production.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008

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