It may come as a surprise to many, but with its luxury line expansion Genesis Motors and ownership stakes in Kia Motors, Hyundai Motor Company is now the third largest vehicle manufacturer in the world! Though, anyone who has driven a Hyundai will be neither shocked nor surprised, as Hyundai vehicles have a well-deserved reputation for being smart, safe, and innovative—not to mention a great value. Of course, this was no overnight success, and Hyundai has fought hard to claim its spot as one of the top automotive companies in the world. Read on, and learn about the history of Hyundai with Edmonton’s Hyundai Experts, Go Hyundai
Who started Hyundai?
The Hyundai Motor Company, also known simply as Hyundai Motors, was founded in 1967—although, it truly started about 20 years earlier. In 1947, South Korean entrepreneur Chung Ju Yung established the Hyundai Engineering and Construction Company. In 1968, cooperating with the Ford Motor Company, Hyundai Motors released the Cortina, a variation of the Ford Cortina found in the United States. Not content with repurposing a pre-existing vehicle, Chung Ju Yung hired a who’s who of british engineers, led by the veteran automobile executive George Turnbull in 1974, leading to the 1975 Hyundai Pony—the first car engineered and manufactured in Korea. Though it didn’t meet the emissions standards in the United States at the time, the Hyundai Pony became one of the top-selling vehicles in Canada. By 1985, one specific Hyundai Pony marked a serious milestone for the company: their one-millionth vehicle.
From there, Hyundai kept innovating and reaching new milestones. Finally venturing into the United States with the 1986 Excel, Hyundai found itself (and the Excel) at #10 on Fortune Magazine’s ‘Best Products’ list, setting a sales record for first-year import sales in the process. Thanks to shrewd business and brave engineering, Hyundai debuted several proprietary technologies on their vehicles like cruise control, headlamp washers, power seats, and a trip computer, leading to them quadrupling their production and hitting the four million vehicle mark in 1990; only five years after they hit one million, and only 23 years into their existence!
In 1993, Hyundai released the Scoupe, which was noteworthy for featuring Hyundai’s first motor and transmission—meaning every component on the Scoupe was both designed and manufactured by Hyundai. Sales went in one direction, and one direction only—up! That’s when Hyundai expanded to California with the Hyundai Design Center in 1990, before moving to a new, $30 million dollar facility in 2003.
After Chung Ju Yung ceded management of the company to his son Chung Mong Koo in 1999, Hyundai underwent a more aggressive expansion in the United States, with a serious marketing campaign and an (unheard of at the time) ten-year/100,000-mile warranty. If that wasn’t enough, Hyundai became an official sponsor of the FIFA World Cup, putting them squarely on the world’s stage. These turned out to be smart moves, and in 2004 Hyundai found themselves ranked second in the J.D. Power and Associates’ ‘Initial Quality’ study, as well as being one of the 100 most valuable brands in the world. This allowed them to purchase a huge stake in rival brand Kia Motors, while also becoming the second largest corporation in all of South Korea!
Today, Hyundai Motors is the third-largest vehicle manufacturer in the world, and its facility in Ulsan, South Korea produces around 1.6 million units annually—making it the world’s largest integrated automobile manufacturing plant. Worldwide, Hyundai employs about 75,000 people across their manufacturing plants, and over 5,000 dealerships and showrooms. Beyond their staggering sales, Hyundai knows the sheer volume of vehicles they produce has an enormous effect on the environment, which is why they also lead the way when it comes to producing environmentally-smart hybrid and electric vehicles. With one of the most extensive lineups available, and amazing innovations like the Nexo, Hyundai is constantly looking forward and creating sustainable technologies that lead to a brighter future.