Another labor dispute is wracking Hyundai Motor Co.'s factories. At risk is the redesigned Hyundai Elantra, the brand's second best-selling nameplate last year in the United States.
The Elantra successor, shown in April at the New York International Auto Show, was supposed to be in production in Korea by now for an autumn launch in the United States. It isn't.
The car also should be on sale already in Korea. But the company doesn't even have a display model in the lobby of Hyundai Motor's Seoul headquarters.
The direct cause of the delay is a labor dispute.
Hyundai wants to reduce staffing levels on the Elantra line. That has gotten caught up in this year's spring labor offensive, when unions and management negotiate pay scales.
Both sides are "digging in deep" in their negotiating stances, says Oles Gadacz, Hyundai's spokesman. The company has lost about a month's worth of production so far.
The union sees a company that, as the parent of Hyundai and Kia, has grown to become the world's sixth-largest carmaker. Management is concerned about the rise of the won against the dollar and other issues affecting the carmaker's general competitiveness.
Korean carmakers have a history of troubled labor relations. Rising profits led to a period of relative labor peace in recent years, but those days appear to be ending.
The Elantra traditionally has been the Hyundai brand's top-selling car in the United States.
Elantra sales rose 3.1 percent to 116,336 last year compared with the previous year. It nonetheless slipped behind Hyundai's top-selling Sonata sedan, which jumped 21.6 percent to 130,365.
All Elantras are imported from Korea. There is no immediate indication when the labor dispute will be resolved.
You may e-mail James B. Treece at [email protected]