Daily News Briefs: May 1, 2012


Here’s what we have our eye on today:

  • Hyundai says it will add a third shift to its only car assembly plant in the U.S. The Montgomery, Ala., assembly plant currently builds the Sonata and Elantra. The new shift rotation will allow Hyundai to increase production by 20,000 vehicles for the remainder of 2012, said the carmaker. Hyundai will hire 877 new employees, increasing total plant employment to more than 3,000 people.
  • As Hyundai continues to increase sales, which may exceed 650,000 in the U.S. this year, sister company Kia is suffering in the shadow of the successful Korean phoenix, according to Bloomberg News. Kia has seen its own sales increase sharply — it will likely exceed 550,000 this year in the U.S., double the sales pace of 2008 — but the smaller Korean carmaker is increasingly using incentives to move the metal, says Bloomberg. While Hyundai has decreased incentives by 26% this year (to $823 per vehicle), Kia has increased its incentives by 8.5%, to $1,677 per vehicle, says Autodata. The Hyundai brand is considered by 20% of new-car shoppers, but only 9% of consumers will consider a Kia, according to Strategic Vision. Hyundai holds a 34% stake in Kia, but both maintain separate factories, finance, sales and design operations. The two also compete with each other, as would two completely independent companies.
  • A short-lived strike that halted production of Chrysler’s popular minivans in Canada is officially over, according to Automotive News. Early Monday morning, a strike by a parts supplier had shut down Windsor Assembly — which currently builds the Chrysler Town & Country, Dodge Grand Caravan, Ram Cargo Van and Volkswagen Routan. The parts supplier, Dakkota Integrated Systems, builds the instrument panels for the minivans, says Chrysler. The strike ended after Chrysler agreed to increase wages by 50 cents an hour per year for the next three years, add four extra days of paid vacation a year, offer a $500 signing bonus, increase benefits and improve working conditions, said Auto News. Inventories of Chrysler’s minivans were already below average, says the trade journal; Chrysler estimated inventories include 53 days’ worth of continued Town & Country sales and 39 days for the Grand Caravan. An ideal level is 60 days, says Automotive News.

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