The Hyundai Motor Company, a division of the Hyundai Kia Automotive Group, is South Korea's largest and the world's Sixth Largest Automaker. Its headquarters are in Seoul, South Korea. In Ulsan, South Korea Hyundai operates the world's largest integrated automobile manufacturing facility 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.
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 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 100,000 mile 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.
Hyundai has invested in manufacturing plants in the North America, China, India, and Turkey as well as research and development centers in Europe, 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 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.
Hyundai entered the United States market in 1986 with only one model, the Hyundai Excel. The Excel was offered in a variety of trims and bodystyles. 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 (a staggering 126,000 vehicles).
Initially well received, the Excel's faults soon became apparent. Also, efforts to bring costs down made reliability suffer. With an increasingly poor reputation for quality, Hyundai sales plummeted, and many dealerships began abandoning franchises. At one point, Hyundai became the butt of many jokes 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.
Rather than drop out of the world's largest automotive market, 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 powertrain warranty to its vehicles sold in the United States. In 20 years, both quality and sales dramatically increased, and the reputation of Hyundai cars improved. In 2004, Hyundai tied with Honda for initial brand quality (quality of engine parts not factored in) 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 200,000-square-foot, $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 facility is located in the Mojave Desert and features a 6.4-mile 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 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. It is Hyundai's second attempt at producing cars in North America (The Hyundai Auto Canada Inc. plant in Quebec closed down in 1993). At full capacity, the plant will employ 2,000 workers. Currently, the plant assembles the Hyundai Sonata and the Hyundai Santa Fe.
In 2003, According to Consumer Reports, Hyundai's reliability rankings tie Honda's.
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, has christened 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, Hyundai's midsize SUV Santa Fe earns 2007 TOP SAFETY PICK award by IIHS.
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.