In years hence, business schools will do well to use Hyundai as a textbook example of how to turn a car company around. In 1998, the company launched a concerted effort to become a dominant player in the North American automotive marketplace. As part of its strategy for accomplishing this, Hyundai invested heavily in the quality, design, manufacturing, and long-term durability of its vehicles.
To ensure these rejuvenated products got noticed, the company added a 10-year or 100,000-mile warranty to cars sold in the United States as part of an aggressive marketing campaign. When the economy went bad back in 2007, Hyundai Motor America offered to buy its cars back from customers if they lost their jobs after purchasing a new Hyundai. The company followed that up with giving buyers of new Hyundai cars free gas for a year.
Savvy moves like those attracted a great deal of positive attention to the brand. Of course, actions like those without solid product to back them up would have simply called attention to substandard offerings. Hyundai excelled in this regard as well. The company produced a whole new range of attractive, value-laden automobiles. When all of those new customers arrived at Hyundai dealerships they found great cars with a strong value to price ratio.
Further, there remains an ongoing effort to expand Hyundai’s product portfolio into nearly every segment of the automotive marketplace. Today, the company offers compacts, family sedans, a hybrid, and crossovers, along with premium and performance cars. There is a solid Hyundai offering for nearly every buyer. For 2014, the American Hyundai lineup includes Accent, Elantra, Elantra Coupe, Elantra GT, Veloster, Veloster Turbo, Sonata, Sonata Hybrid, Azera, Tucson, Santa Fe, Santa Fe Sport, Genesis, Genesis Coupe, and the company’s ultra-luxurious flagship—Equus.