Hyundai, which found itself lagging behind its rivals in the lucrative crossover and SUV market and figured it should do something about it, is having trouble getting its desperately needed subcompact crossover into production.
The 2018 Kona, which we’ve so far seen only a portion of, is part of a better-late-than-never product push by the Korean automaker. A new small crossover was needed to to mine a growing segment and boost Hyundai’s flagging U.S. sales, but the reality of building cars in Korea has thrown up a roadblock.
According to The Korea Herald, labor strife at the company’s Ulsan Plant 1 threatens to delay the launch of the little money maker.
Company management and labor officials are currently battling over the many elements of Kona production, including the sourcing of parts, working hours, and the number of workers devoted to the vehicle’s production. The spark that lit the flame was Hyundai’s decision to outsource the Kona’s bumpers in the interests of efficiency and quality, triggering a backlash from workers.
The automaker can’t seem to catch a break lately. Last year the company took a financial hit after striking workers in Korea curtailed production of several models, while its U.S. sales woes relate to its lack of a fleshed-out utility lineup. Chinese Hyundai sales have fallen precipitously after the country agreed to the placement of U.S.-supplied defensive missiles as defense against a North Korean attack.
Meanwhile, the automaker is under investigation on both sides of the Pacific for its roll-out of recalls for older models equipped with potentially debris-clogged engines.
For the Kona, the labor strife could prove costly. The vehicle’s overseas launch was expected later this year, with U.S. customers scheduled to get their hands on one in early 2018. Now, the plan has reportedly flown out the window.
A Hyundai representative told The Korea Herald the Kona’s production schedule has been halted.[Image: Hyundai]