A highly diversified corporation, Hyundai is active in advertising, construction, chemicals, electronics, financial services, heavy industry, logistics, shipbuilding, shipping, and automobile manufacturing, The Hyundai Motor Group is the largest automaker in Korea, the second largest in Asia (after Toyota), and the fourth largest in the world. Further, the company operates the largest automobile factory on Earth at Ulsan, South Korea. The plant there produces some 1.6 million vehicles annually.
The first of the new Hyundai cars to emerge was the 1968 Hyundai Cortina, produced in co-operation with the Ford Motor Company. The first of the new Hyundai models produced from scratch came in 1975 as the Hyundai Pony. Giorgetto Giugiaro’s ItalDesign did the styling; Mitsubishi did the powertrain. The Pony found its way to Canada in 1984, and was met with considerable acclaim. In fact, at one point, the Hyundai Pony was the best selling car in Canada. However, those new Hyundai cars never came to the U.S. because they wouldn’t meet our emissions standards.
The first of the new Hyundai models to be offered in the United States was the 1986 Hyundai Excel. A runaway best seller, the Excel offered crisp styling (Giugiaro again) and an incredibly reasonable base price. However, it ultimately turned out the only thing those new Hyundai cars excelled at was breaking down. When consumers figured this out, sales plummeted. The Excel’s follow-up, the Sonata, wasn’t a whole lot better. While the numbers were down considerably from launch, the new Hyundai models still sold—but only to people who couldn’t afford anything else.
However, the company kept trying until it found its stride.
In 1998, Hyundai’s management team began a concerted effort to turn the concern’s image around. Hyundai Motor Group invested heavily in the quality, design, manufacturing, and long-term durability of its vehicles. It added a 10-year or 100,000-mile warranty to new Hyundai cars sold in the United States and launched an aggressive marketing campaign. When the economy went bad in 2007, Hyundai Motor America offered to buy new Hyundai models back from customers if they subsequently lost their jobs. The marketing group followed that up with giving buyers for new Hyundai models free gas for a year.
Savvy moves like those, along with a broad model range of attractive designs and expanding its product portfolio into nearly every segment of the automotive marketplace has attracted a great deal of positive attention to the brand. Hyundai now finds itself considered among the most respected car companies in the world.