The Hyundai Motor Company, a division of the Hyundai Kia Automotive Group, is South Korea’s largest and the world’s fifth largest automaker in terms of units sold per year. Headquartered in Seoul, Hyundai operates the world’s largest integrated automobile manufacturing facility in Ulsan, which is capable of producing 1.6 million units annually. The Hyundai logo, a slanted, stylized 'H', is said to be symbolic of two people (the company and customer) shaking hands. Hyundai means "modernity" in Korean.
In 1986, Hyundai began to sell cars in the United States, and the Excel was nominated "Best Product #10" by Fortune magazine, largely because of its affordability. The company began to produce models with its own technology in 1988, beginning with the midsize Sonata.
In 1998, Hyundai began to overhaul its image in an attempt to establish itself as a world-class brand. Chung Ju Yung transferred leadership of Hyundai Motor to his son, Chung Mong Koo, in 1999. Hyundai’s parent company, Hyundai Motor Group, invested heavily in the quality, design, manufacturing, and long-term research of its vehicles. It added a 10-year or warranty to cars sold in the United States and launched an aggressive marketing campaign.
In 2004, Hyundai was ranked second in "initial quality" in a survey/study by J.D. Power and Associates. Hyundai is now one of the top 100 most valuable brands worldwide. Since 2002, Hyundai has also been one of the worldwide official sponsors of the FIFA World Cup.
In 2006, the South Korean government initiated an investigation of Chung Mong Koo’s practices as head of Hyundai, suspecting him of corruption. On April 28, 2006, Chung was arrested, and charged for embezzlement of 100 billion won (US$106 million), with Hyundai Vice Chairman and CEO, Kim Dong-jin taking over as head of the company.
In 1998, after a shake-up in the Korean auto industry caused by overambitious expansion and the Asian financial crisis, Hyundai acquired rival Kia Motors. In 2000, the company established a strategic alliance with DaimlerChrysler and severed its partnership with the Hyundai Group. In 2001, the Daimler-Hyundai Truck Corporation was formed. In 2004, however, DaimlerChrysler divested its interest in the company by selling its 10.5 percent stake for $900 million.
In 2004, Hyundai Motor Company had $57.2 billion in sales in South Korea making it the country’s second largest corporation, or chaebol. Worldwide sales in 2005 reached 2,533,695 units, an 11 percent increase over the previous year. Hyundai has set as its 2006 target worldwide sales of 2.7 million units (excluding exports of CKD kits).
Hyundai motor vehicles are sold in 193 countries through some 5,000 dealerships and showrooms. After a recent survey of global automotive sales by Automotive News, Hyundai is now the sixth largest automaker in the world, surpassing Nissan, Honda, and many other major brands, selling 3,715,096 units in 2005.
Hyundai Motor Company’s brand power continues to rise as it was ranked 72nd in the 2007 Best Global Brands by Interbrand and BusinessWeek survey. brand value estimated at $4.5 billion. Public perception of the Hyundai brand has been transformed as a result of dramatic improvements in the quality of Hyundai vehicles.
Initially well received, the Excel’s faults soon became apparent; cost-cutting measures caused reliability to suffer. With an increasingly poor reputation for quality, Hyundai sales plummeted, and many dealerships either earned their profits on repairs or abandoned the product. At one point, Hyundai became the butt of many jokes (i.e. Hyundai stands for "Hope you understand nothing's driveable and inexpensive") and even made David Letterman's Top Ten Hilarious Mischief Night Pranks To Play In Space: #8 - Paste a "Hyundai" logo on the main control panel.
In response, the parent company of Hyundai began investing heavily in the quality, design, manufacturing, and long-term research of its vehicles. It added a 10-year or powertrain warranty (known as the Hyundai challenge) to its vehicles sold in the United States. By 2004, sales had dramatically increased, and the reputation of Hyundai cars improved. In 2004, Hyundai tied with Honda for initial brand quality in a survey/study from J.D. Power and Associates, for having 102 problems per 100 vehicles. This made Hyundai second in the industry, only behind Toyota, for initial vehicle quality. The company continued this tradition by placing third overall in J.D. Power’s 2006 Initial Quality Survey, behind only Porsche and Lexus.
Hyundai continues to invest heavily in its American operations as its cars grow in popularity. In 1990, Hyundai established the Hyundai Design Center in Fountain Valley, California. The center moved to a new $30 million facility in Irvine, California in 2003, and was renamed the Hyundai Kia Design and Technical Center. Besides the design studio, the facility also housed Hyundai America Technical Center, Inc. (HATCI, established in 1986), a subsidiary responsible for all engineering activities in the U.S. for Hyundai. Hyundai America Technical Center moved to its new , $117 million headquarters in Superior Township, Michigan (near Ann Arbor) in 2005. Later that same year, HATCI announced that it would be expanding its technical operations in Michigan and hiring 600 additional engineers and other technical employees over a period of five years. The center also has employees in California and Alabama.
Hyundai America Technical Center completed construction of its Hyundai/Kia proving ground in California City, California in 2004. The facility is located in the Mojave Desert and features a oval track, a Vehicle Dynamics Area, a vehicle-handling course inside the oval track, a paved hill road, and several special surface roads. A complex featuring offices and indoor testing areas is located on the premises as well. The facility was built at a cost of $50 million. An aerial view can be found here.
Hyundai completed an assembly plant just outside Montgomery, Alabama in 2004, with a grand opening on May 20, 2005, at a cost of $1.1 billion. At full capacity, the plant will employ 2,000 workers. Currently, the plant assembles the Hyundai Sonata and the Hyundai Santa Fe. It is Hyundai’s second attempt at producing cars in North America, as the Hyundai Auto Canada Inc. plant in Quebec closed down in 1993.
In 2005, Hyundai allowed Ed Voyles Hyundai in Smyrna, Georgia to become the first "deaf friendly" dealership in the entire world. The staff in this dealership are able to accommodate deaf customers with the use of American Sign Language and video conferencing phones.
In 2006 JD Power and associates quality ranking, overall the Hyundai brand ranked 3rd, just behind Porsche and Lexus, and beating long time rival Toyota. The brand overall is ranked much higher than the average industry and resale value continues to improve; a comparable 2003 Hyundai Sonata sedan ranks just $2200 below a similarly equipped Honda Accord, according to Kelley Blue Book Pricing 2006.
In 2006, Hyundai’s minivan Entourage earned a five-star safety rating – the highest honor the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration bestows – for all seating positions in frontal and side-impact crashes. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety also rates “Good” – its highest rating – in front, side and rear impacts. The IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, US), in fact, named the 2006 Hyundai Entourage and Kia Sedona a “Gold Top Safety Pick,” making the safest minivan ever tested.
In 2006, Hyundai was awarded 'Top-rated 2006 Ideal Vehicle' by Autopacific, Marketing research and consultancy firm for the automobile industry.
In 2007 Strategic Vision Total Quality Awards, Hyundai Motors leads the most vehicle segments in Strategic Vision’s Total Quality Index, measuring the ownership experience. They attempt to measure more than just the number of problems per vehicle. Hyundai tops in Strategic Vision Total Quality Awards. For the first time ever, Hyundai has risen to share the position of having the most models leading a segment. three models with the top Total Quality Index (TQI) score in their segments, including the Hyundai Azera, Entourage, Santa Fe.
In 2007 at the New York International Auto Show, Hyundai unveiled its V8 rear-drive luxury sedan called Concept Genesis to be slotted above the Azera in the Hyundai line-up. This concept will make its American debut in mid 2008.
In 2007 at the Los Angeles International Auto Show, Hyundai unveiled its second rear-drive concept car, this car, called Concept Genesis Coupe, will be Hyundai’s first sports car due to make its debut in early 2009.
In 2008, Hyundai Santa Fe and Hyundai Elantra awarded 2008 Consumer Reports "top pick" which was among the top 10 vehicles for 2008 unveiled in the magazine's issue. The magazine's annual ratings, based on road tests and predicted safety and reliability are considered highly influential among consumers. and Hyundai Elantra earned Consumer Reports' 'excellent' rating in predicted reliability. Hyundai Elantra is Consumer Reports top-ranked 2008 vehicle amongst 19 other compacts and subcompacts. Beating out such high-quality stalwarts as the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla and Toyota Prius.
In 2008, at the North American International Auto Show, the production version of the luxury & performance-oriented Hyundai Genesis sedan made its debut, dealerships will have the Genesis as soon as Summer 2008.
In 2008, at the New York International Auto Show, Hyundai debuted it's production version of the performance-oriented rear-drive Hyundai Genesis Coupe, slated to hit dealerships in early 2009.
2009, Hyundai has announced the five-door hatchback variant of the Elantra compact sedan will carry the name Elantra Touring when it goes on sale in the spring as a 2009 model.
In June, 2008, the Korean government criticized that Japan is a closed market and requested the Japanese government to support Hyundai at the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) talk. However, Japanese officials refused the proposal because Japan does not impose customs to cars from other countries while Korea has restrictions importing American cars and impose customs to Japanese cars.
Since 2004, Hyundai has supplied about 3,000 hybrid versions of its Getz and Accent small cars to government fleets as part of a testing program. The automaker cites a lack of local tax benefits for purchasing hybrids as a barrier to its hybrid development program. But Hyundai expects the tax situation to change in 2009 .
The new hybrid electric Sonata will make its debut at the Los Angeles International Auto Show in November 2008. Hyundai expects to release it in the U.S. market in 2010, featuring lithium-ion battery technology .
Professor Kil-Soo Jung at College of Arts and Physical Education at Sejong University claims that it is shameful that Korean car manufactures just copy car design from other countries. He continues that it is necessary to have Korean unique design.
Hyundai Motor plans to aid Chevron Corporation in the construction of up to six hydrogen fueling stations that will be located in California, including locations at the University of California-Davis and the Hyundai America Technical Center in Chino. Hyundai is going to provide a collection of 32 Tucson fuel cell vehicles, which are powered by UTC Fuel Cell power plants.