A History of Hyundai Automobiles

Written By John Linden

Since its humble origins in 1947, Hyundai has become a household name across the world after its development by Chung Ju-Yung. In Asia, the Hyundai brand represents the largest conglomerate of business interests in Korea. While the company is mostly known in Asia for engineering escalators, department stores, construction projects, and shipbuilding interests in South Korea, the contributions of Hyundai Motors to the American automotive market have made its name ubiquitous with affordable, reliable compact automobiles.

Founded in 1967, Hyundai Motor Co. now operates the world’s largest integrated manufacturing facility in Ulsan, Korea. As a pioneer in the future of automotive technologies, Hyundai Motor Co. has made considerable investments in low-emission gasoline engines, solar-powered vehicles, and hydrogen-powered fuel cells to work against global warming.

A North Korean Farmer Makes His Mark

Chung Ju-Yung, the founder of Hyundai Group and the eldest son of a poor North Korean farming family, was dedicated to making his dreams a reality. After struggling to make ends meet until the liberation of Korea during World War 2, Chung took an interest in excelling at engineering and repairing automobiles. He began offering his services to the U.S Armed Forces stationed in Korea and invested his earnings into other engineering and construction projects.

As an entrepreneur, Chung created sustainable and powerful businesses throughout Korea, playing an integral part in making the country the powerhouse it is today. Hyundai Motor Co. was incorporated to focus exclusively on growing within the automotive business.

Hyundai Enters the Automobile Industry

Working closely with Ford Motor Company, Hyundai rolled out its debut vehicle, the Ford Cortina, in 1968. After the vehicle’s initial success and eventual dominance in Europe, began to develop its own vehicles under its own name.

The Hyundai Pony was the company’s first attempt at offering a compact rear-wheel drive automobile and was the first mass produced Korean car. The Pony would become Hyundai’s flagship vehicle, producing multiple versions of the vehicle including a pickup model.

Breaking Into the American Market

Hyundai Santa Fe

As Hyundai Motors continued its success in Asia and Europe, the company turned its focus to the American automobile market. By the mid-1980s, the American auto market had become oversaturated with high-end luxury automobiles that only catered to a specific class of people only. Hyundai saw a gap in the market and chose to target first-time buyers and younger drivers. In 1986, Hyundai introduced the Excel to the U.S. market place and it was an instant hit. The Excel’s sales broke industry records and cemented Hyundai’s reputation as a first-class automaker.

Because of Hyundai’s successes in the U.S market, it was only natural that Hyundai Motor America would open its doors to the growing demand. In 1988, Hyundai Motors America opened its distribution center in Ontario, CA. Then, HMA opened a massive office complex and distribution center at Aurora, IL in the Midwest. This was a huge step for HMA, as the majority of its previous sales and growth had previously been located along the coasts.

Additional offices in New Jersey, Georgia, and Texas soon followed. With Hyundai enjoying massive success, the national headquarters were moved to a brand new 18-acre campus in Fountain Valley, CA by the 1990’s.

To facilitate financing of its vehicles, Hyundai Motor Finance Co. opened in 1990 with a $15 million capital investment. Hyundai Motor Finance Company caters to Hyundai dealers nationwide as a service to individual customers and dealer inventory purchases. With Hyundai taking finances into its own hands, the company continued to make its commitment to the American automobile consumer known, giving the company an even greater foothold in America and abroad.

Hyundai’s Success in America and Abroad Continues

As the company continued to grow, HMA opened a 12.2 million port facility for shipping and receiving in Portland, OR. The port features a massive processing building, holding lot, and rail and vehicle transportation facilities. Hyundai’s expansion is a testament to the brisk sales and extreme popularity of its offerings. Its 10-year or 100,000 mile warranty plan offered in the late 1990s with an aggressive marketing campaign kept Hyundai Motors America at the forefront of American automobile sales.

In 2000, Hyundai Motors parent company underwent a series of deregulations in it North Korea, and severed its relationship with Hyundai Group. Since then, Hyundai has worked with DaimlerChrysler, becoming its own corporate entity.

By 2004, Hyundai was ranked second in “initial quality” in a survey and study by J.D Power and Associates and in 2011, Hyundai Motor Group had become the world’s fourth largest automaker behind the massive brands of GM, Toyota, and VW. With 193 countries and around 5,000 dealerships worldwide, Hyundai has become a true superpower in the automobile industry that shows little sign of slowing down.

Featured image: makamuki0 / Pixabay
In Post Image Credit: ales_kartal / Pixabay