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Hyundai shifts Santa Fe production to Kia plant to get more Sonatas

Mon, 23 Aug 2010 00:00:00 -0700

Hyundai Motor America is shifting production of its Santa Fe crossover to the Georgia plant of its corporate cousin, Kia Motors America, to free up production for more high-demand Hyundai Sonatas in Alabama.

New workers have been hired at Kia's plant in West Point, Ga., to build the Santa Fe on a second production line, said a source familiar with the situation.

The Santa Fe is now built at Hyundai's Montgomery, Ala., plant, which also builds the Sonata sedan. That plant has been running on maximum overtime for months as Hyundai tries to meet demand for the hot-selling Sonata.

"Our biggest problem is we can't build enough cars," Dave Zuchowski, Hyundai's U.S. sales boss, said in an interview this month.

Hyundai has been working on a plan to keep dealers stocked with the Sonata without having to import from South Korea.

The Sonata has been Hyundai's hottest vehicle this year, with 107,085 sold through July, up from 73,862 in the same period last year.

Kia's Georgia plant now makes only the 2011 Sorento SUV, which shares its platform with the Santa Fe. Kia built an estimated 69,332 units at the plant through Saturday, Aug. 21, according to the Automotive News Data Center. The plant has the capacity to build 300,000 units annually.

Hyundai spokesman Chris Hosford declined comment.

By Ryan Beene- Automotive News