Hyundai Motor Company, a division of the Hyundai Kia Automotive Group, is the world’s fourth largest automaker in terms of units sold and one of the Big Asian Four (with Toyota, Honda and Nissan). Headquartered in Seoul, South Korea, 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. The company employs about 75,000 persons around the world, Hyundai vehicles are sold in 193 countries through some 6,000 dealerships and showrooms worldwide.
Chung Ju-Yung founded the Hyundai Engineering and Construction Company in 1947. Hyundai Motor Company was later established in 1967. The company’s first model, the Cortina, was released in cooperation with Ford Motor Company in 1968. In 1975, the Pony, the first Korean car, was released, with styling by Giorgio Giugiaro of ItalDesign and powertrain technology provided by Japan’s Mitsubishi Motors. Exports began in the following year to Ecuador and soon thereafter to the Benelux countries. In 1991, the company succeeded in developing its first proprietary gasoline engine, the four-cylinder Alpha, and transmission, thus paving the way for technological independence.
In 1983, Hyundai exported the Pony to Canada, but not to the United States because the Pony didn't pass emissions standards there. Canadian sales greatly exceeded expectations, and it was at one point the top-selling car on the Canadian market. The Pony afforded a much higher degree of quality and refinement in the lowest price auto segment than the Eastern-bloc imports of the period then available.
In 1986, Hyundai began to sell cars in the United States, and the Excel was nominated as "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 1996, Hyundai Motors India Limited was established with a production plant in Irrungattukotai near Chennai, India.
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 100,000-mile (160,000 km) 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 South Korean won (US$106 million). As a result, Hyundai Vice Chairman and CEO, Kim Dong-jin, replaced him 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% stake for $900 million.
Hyundai has invested in manufacturing plants in the North America, China, Czech Republic, Pakistan, India, and Turkey as well as research and development centers in Europe, India, North America, and Japan. 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 tenth largest automaker in the world as of 2007.
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.
Hyundai entered the United States market in 1986 with a single model, the Hyundai Excel. The Excel was offered in a variety of trims and body styles. That year, Hyundai set a record of selling the most automobiles in its first year of business in the United States compared to any other car brand (c. 126,000 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 100,000-mile (160,000 km) 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 Motors 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 200,000-square-foot (19,000 m2), $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 4,300-acre (17 km2) facility is located in the Mojave Desert and features a 6.4-mile (10.3 km) oval track, a Vehicle Dynamics Area, a vehicle-handling course inside the oval track, a paved hill road, and several special surface roads. A 30,000-square-foot (2,800 m2) 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 since Hyundai Auto Canada Inc.'s plant in Quebec closed in 1993.
In 2003, according to Consumer Reports, Hyundai’s reliability rankings tied Honda's.
In 2005, Hyundai authorized Ed Voyles' Hyundai dealership 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, J.D. 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, the Hyundai Entourage minivan 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, United States), 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 the 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, Hyundai's midsize SUV, the Santa Fe, earned the 2007 Top Safety Pick award by IIHS.
In 2007 at the New York International Auto Show, Hyundai unveiled its V8 rear-drive luxury sedan called the Concept Genesis to be slotted above the Azera in the Hyundai line-up. This concept will make its American debut in mid 2008. The Genesis reintroduced rear-wheel drive to the Hyundai range following a long period of only producing front-wheel drive cars.
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 were awarded 2008 Consumer Reports "top picks". The magazine's annual ratings, based on road tests and predicted safety and reliability are considered highly influential among consumers. The Hyundai Elantra was Consumer Reports' top-ranked 2008 vehicle among 19 other compacts and small family cars, beating out 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 its production version of the performance-oriented rear-drive Hyundai Genesis Coupe, slated to hit dealerships in early 2009.
In 2009 Hyundai 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 2009, the Hyundai Genesis luxury sedan was named 2009 North American Car of the Year, the first for Hyundai. The Genesis has received a number of well-recognized automobile awards worldwide. It also won the 2009 Canadian Car of the Year after winning its category of Best New Luxury Car under $50,000. The Hyundai's V8 Tau engine in the Genesis, which develops 375 hp (280 kW) on premium fuel and 368 hp (274 kW) on regular fuel, received 2009 Ward's 10 Best Engines award.
In 2009, 6 models of Hyundai/Kia cars earned the Top Safety Award by IIHS, better than Nissan/Infiniti.
In 2009, Hyundai/Kia vehicles were named as “least expensive vehicles to insure”. Hyundai/Kia vehicles were the least expensive to insure and occupied the 'top five' least expensive slots, said Insure.com. Low rates tend to reflect a vehicle’s safety.
In 2009, According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) fuel economy report, Hyundai is the most fuel-efficient automaker in America. Hyundai surpassed every major automaker --even Toyota and Honda.
In 2010, the Hyundai Equus made its North American debut at the North American International Auto Show
In 1989, Hyundai Auto Canada Inc. opened a stamping and assembly plant in Bromont, Quebec, employing 800. The plant cost $387.7 million, with Quebec and Canadian federal government subsidies of $131 million. The plant was designed to manufacture approximately 2000 Hyundai Sonata's per week. Subsequently, Chrysler and Hyundai considered a joint venture that would have Chrysler rebranding the Sonata manufactured at Bromont — only to later announce the deal had failed. The Bromont plant was operational for four years before it closed — with Hyundai's sales unable to support the plant. Hyundai subsequently sold the plant, which was eventually purchased by AAER Inc., a manufacturer of wind turbines based in Quebec.
Hyundai Motor India Limited is currently the second largest carmaker after Maruti Suzuki and largest auto exporter in India. It is making India the global manufacturing base for small cars. Hyundai sells several models in India, the most popular being the Santro Xing, i10 and the i20. Other models include Getz Prime, Accent, second generation Verna, Tucson, and the Sonata Transform. Hyundai has two manufacturing plants in India located at Sriperumbudur in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Both plants have a combined annual capacity of 600,000 units.
On November 2008, Hyundai opened its European plant in Nošovice, Czech Republic, following an investment of over 1 billion euros and over two years of construction. The plant, which mainly manufactures the i30 for the European market, has an annual capacity of 200,000 cars. The new Hyundai plant is 90 kilometers north of Kia Motors' plant in Å½ilina, Slovakia.
Hyundai and Kia Motors are currently ranked second in the passenger car market in China, just behind Volkswagen. To meet the increasing demand for their cars in the country, Hyundai will spend US$800 million on a third plant, which will be located in Beijing. Expected to open by 2011, the new plant will have an annual capacity of 300,000 units.
Despite having growing sales worldwide, Hyundai struggled in Japan, having sold only 15,000 passenger cars from 2001 to 2009. Following an announcement on November 2009, Hyundai pulled their passenger car division out of the Japanese market and focused on their commercial vehicle division instead.