Kia will idle one of the last US auto plants still running

Craig Trudell

Kia Motors Corp. is stopping the assembly lines at one of the last auto plants still open in the U.S.

The South Korean carmaker’s factory in West Point, Georgia, will suspend operations on March 30 for two weeks, according to a statement. Kia cited the spread of Covid-19 and supply chain concerns as reasons for its decision to halt the facility’s output of Optima sedans and Telluride and Sorento SUVs.

The Alliance for Automotive Innovation, a Washington trade group that represents almost every carmaker that does business in the U.S., told lawmakers Monday that 42 out of 44 plants that assemble vehicles in the country have halted work or will shut down. The tally was sent along with a letter to Democratic and Republican congressional leaders that urged them to create a pool of loans and loan guarantees to help large, medium and small companies in the sector as part of economic stimulus plans being negotiated in Washington.

Kia’s Georgia plant has the capacity to make 340,000 cars and sport utility vehicles annually. The state had 1,026 confirmed coronavirus cases and 32 deaths as of midday Tuesday.