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Strike In Korea. What Does It Mean For US Kia Buyers?

The domestic labor problems continue for Hyundai-Kia, with Korean unions voting to strike over wage and benefit disputes.

The result could be a stoppage in production in South Korea.

Hyundai-Kia rank 5th in global car sales and 6th in the US, with year to date sales down 0.3%.

Despite the drop, the Hyundai Elantra and Sonata, as well as the Kia Optima and Soul, all rank in the top 35 best-selling cars for 2013.

Most Kias are produced in Korea

While the automakers have plants in the US, a good majority of those four cars are actually produced in South Korea. Any type of strike could severely hurt dealer supply in just a few short weeks.

It’s tough to say how many Hyundai-Kia vehicles sold in the US originate in Korea, but Automotive News believes that the number of imported vehicles sold here through July sits at about 36.2% of 2013 sales.

Those numbers include the US-built Elantra and Sonata, but Hyundai does currently import the Elantra coupe and GT hatchback, as well as a good portion of the sedans.

It also imports some versions of the Sonata, Optima and Santa Fe.

Jim Trainor, spokesperson for Hyundai, declined to comment on the import numbers, as did representatives from both Kia and Hyundai. It is believed that as many as 4 in every 10 models actually come from South Korea.

Strike may cause Hyundai, Kia Supply Issues

Now might be the time to buy a Hyundai Accent, Azera, Elantra GT and Coupe, Equus, Genesis and Coupe, Veloster and Tuscon.

The same applies with the Kia Cadena, Forte, Rio, Sedona, Soul and Sportage, as all the afore-mentioned vehicles are imported and could be subject to supply issues should a strike occur.

Both Korean car companies already have supply issues in the US, falling below the 56-day supply that most automakers have on hand.

Both plants in the US are already at full capacity and simply don’t have the capacity to pick up the slack should the strike go ahead.

Since Hyundai-Kia don’t release inventory figures, it’s hard to say which models will be at risk during a strike.

Looking at cars.com and using July figures can help give us some sort of idea, but since every dealership doesn’t report to cars.com, everything is really just an estimate.

That said, it looks as though the Accent and Soul may be the cars most adversely affected by the strike.

The Azera, Equus and Veloster should be able to weather the storm, assuming that the dispute does not drag out too long.

The fall inventory season is almost upon us, which means Hyundai and Kia may be forced to take any deals off the shelf.

The savings can rank anywhere from $500 to $2,000, depending on the model chosen. The incentives should still be there for the time being, but they may not last should the strike drag on.

This is not the first time that Hyundai and Kia have experienced labor issues, as employees struck back in 2012.

The strike rolled on until September, causing US inventory levels to fall below 30 days. Korean imports dropped by 23%, making it the costliest strike in the history of the automakers.

Union leaders will meet on Aug. 19 to decide whether to stage a partial or full strike, which could take effect as soon as Aug. 20. [Source: cars.com]

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