Kia Motors’ labor union has called for halting the US production of its brand new Telluride three-row sport utility vehicle as weak vehicle sales can jeopardize jobs in South Korea, industry sources said on April 10.
The issue is expected to take prominence at this year’s collective bargaining talks between the automaker’s workers and management, with many observers predicting Kia will reject the demand.
“There has been a drop in local car output leading to excess capacity that can be taken up by the Telluride being produced in Korea,” a union representative said.
The large crossover is currently being assembled at Kia’s West Point plant in Georgia. The car was designed and built with the North American market in mind and only comes with a gasoline engine, instead of the diesel unit that is more popular in Korea.
In addition to the flagship Telluride, Kia’s union is requesting that all production of its all-new compact SP2 crossover take place in Korea instead of being split with the carmaker’s assembly line in Andhra Pradesh, India.
The vehicle is expected to reach consumers late this year with local production slated for July being followed by assembly in India from September onward.
Kia said that it has already explained in advance details of its production plans for the Telluride and SP2 to workers, so it broke no agreement on consultations.
“It is not even certain if such motions will actually be agreed upon by all workers as both matters have already been touched upon during previous union-management talks,” a Kia spokesperson said.
Instead of building the Telluride, local plants will continue to build the updated version of the large Mohave SUV going forward so there should be no shortfall in work, according to the sources.
By Ram Garikipati and newswires (firstname.lastname@example.org)