Shutdowns for Kia and Hyundai have been announced and will impact manufacturing in Tallapoosa and Coosa counties. The cause is both the coronavirus crisis and large line change outs. Kwung Sung, SL Alabama Sejin, and Korens will be closed until April 7.
Denise Walls with the Lake Martin Area Economic Development Alliance said COVID-19 or not, planned shutdowns happen this time of year at auto manufacturers.
“It is the time of year where they do change outs on the lines to accommodate new models,” Walls said. “Not only do the big manufacturers do it, but it happens with plants here too.”
Walls said as of now SL Alabama and Kwung Sung have change outs planned in the coming weeks.
“Kwung Sung has planned to shut down from (Monday) until April 7,” Walls said.
Both Kia and Hyundai had shutdowns related to the coronavirus. Kia briefly shut down due to supply issues related to the pandemic while Hyundai closed when an employee tested positive for COVID-19. A few of Hyundai’s workers were kept on the job to continue manufacturing engines for Kia and others were kept at work to maintain the facility and its equipment.
According to Walls, about 1,900 are employed by five automotive manufactures in the area supplying parts to Koren, U.S. Japanese and German automakers. She said most of the plants do not keep inventory at the plant for the larger manufacturers.
“It is on-time production,” Walls said. “They have no room for any significant inventory.”
The manufacturers are dependent on trucking to move the inventory from plants to first-tier suppliers near Kia south of Montgomery and to Hyundai in West Point.
Walls said full-time employees of the plants would qualify for unemployment benefits.
President Donald Trump signed a stimulus bill Friday that includes direct payments to taxpayers. Individuals would be due up to $1,200 and couples would receive up to $2,400 plus $500 per child. The bill includes almost $400 billion to help small businesses retain their payrolls and $250 billion to boost unemployment insurance, offering up to $600 per week for four months for laid-off workers, on top of whatever benefits their states may provide.