Hyundai Motor Mfg. Alabama is cutting 11 days from its fourth-quarter production plan as it shifts to a 4-day workweek, beginning this Friday.

The slowdown is prompted by falling sales of the two models – the Sonata midsize sedan and Santa Fe cross/utility vehicle – built in Montgomery and will affect engine production as well.

“We're trying to balance our production with consumer demand,” plant spokesman Robert Burns tells Ward's.

The move marks the second time in a year Hyundai has reduced output at its 3 1/2-year-old plant, eliminating three days in fourth-quarter 2007 due to slowing Sonata sales.

Plant workers are being given the choice of taking their downtime as a vacation or personal leave day on all Fridays (except Dec. 5) and some Mondays, starting Oct. 25 through the end of December.

Three additional days off related to the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays have been added to the plant's previously scheduled downtime, Burns says.

Employees at Hyundai's V-6 and 4-cyl. engine plants in Alabama, which supply the Santa Fe and Sonata, will have the same days off, Burns says.

Ward's data shows a 70 days' supply of the Santa Fe at the end of September, up from 43 days in August, while the Sonata had a 79 days' supply at the end of last month, an increase of 19 days from late August.

Sales of the Santa Fe plunged 35% last month, while Sonata deliveries jumped 37.2% in September. However, Hyundai's total U.S. sales fell 22.3% in the month, according to Ward's data.

cschweinsberg@wardsauto.com