| CARACAS, March 24
CARACAS, March 24 A Venezuelan auto assembly
plant, MMC, hopes to restart output of Hyundai Motor Co
vehicles by 2018 after a five-year halt due to a
lack of dollars from the government to import parts, a company
executive said in an interview.
Vehicle assembly has nearly ground to a halt in the
crisis-stricken OPEC nation for lack of parts of assembly. The
socialist-run country's currency controls require businesses to
obtain dollars through the government, but low oil prices have
left it without enough hard currency to disburse.
MMC, which assembles and sells Hyundai and Mitsubishi Motors
Corp vehicles in Venezuela, plans to sell imported
autos in the coming months as it brings the factory back online.
"The automotive industry is cyclical; it seems like we've
hit the bottom and we want to be ready for better times," MMC
Vice President Jose Gomez said in an interview on Thursday.
"We're not going to wait for the good times to arrive to
start getting ready."
Venezuela's economic crisis, characterized by triple-digit
inflation and chronic product shortages, has
decimated the spending power of a population that for years had
the means to buy new cars.
Auto assembly in 2016 sank to a historic low of 2,849 cars,
nearly 75 percent less than the year before, according to
Venezuela's automotive industry group.
Assembly plants have also struggled with labor disputes,
which have forced a number of plants to halt operations over the
last six months.
Hyundai's director for Central and South America, Chenny
Park, said the company was hoping to become a favorite in the
"We are beginning a new era for the Hyundai brand in
Venezuela," said Park via an interpreter.
Seoul-based Hyundai is Korea's largest automaker and the
fifth-largest world wide.
(Writing by Brian Ellsworth; Editing by Matthew Lewis)