The Hyundai Motor Company is a multinational automaker from South Korea. It’s been around since 1967 and is 32.8% owner of Kia as well as 100% owner of Genesis. These three companies make up the Hyundai Motor Group. Combined, they create the third largest vehicle producer in the world.
They operate the world’s largest automobile manufacturing plant. It’s located in Ulsan, South Korea and has a production capacity of about 1.6 million vehicles per year. Altogether, the company has about 75,000 employees across the globe. That’s because they sell vehicles in almost 200 countries and run about 5,000 dealerships.
Some of their most popular vehicles included the Tiburon, Tucson, Veloster, and Genesis Coupe.
The History of Hyundai
The Hyundai Origin Story
When was Hyundai founded? In 1947, Chung Ju-Yung founded what was known as the Hyundai Engineering and Construction Company. It wasn’t until 1967 that the Hyundai Motor Company came to be as a result of the first company. His first model was the Cortina, which he released in partnership with Ford just a year after starting the business.
When they decided to develop their own vehicle, they turned to George Turnbull. He had been a Managing Director for Austin Morris at British Leyland and was known to be the top of the field. Together, they created the Pony. This was South Korea’s first car, and it wasn’t long before they were exporting to other countries, starting with Ecuador.
The Pony did make it to Canada in 1984, but the United States never saw it; mainly because it didn’t pass the strict emissions standards. At one point, it was the top-selling vehicle in Canada and by 1985, Hyundai produced their one-millionth vehicle.
In 1985, Hyundai Motor Company came to the United States and by 1986; they were selling their Excel model. Immediately, the critics hailed this car as a great buy. In fact, by 1987, the Excel was the best-selling imported compact car for three consecutive years in America.
In 1988, the Sonata made its debut.
Growing a Company
By 1990, the company hit four million vehicles produced worldwide. Just a year later, they built their own proprietary gasoline engine, known as Alpha. In addition, they created their own transmission, making it easier to achieve technological independence.
Through the 1990s, they released many popular models including the Accent, Dynasty, and Tiburon. By 1996, they surpassed the ten million produced vehicle mark. In 1998, they acquired the Kia Motor Company. By 1999, leadership was transferred to Chung Mong Koo, the founder’s son. With the new administration came a new investment in design, manufacturing, and quality. That same year, they added a record-breaking 10-year, 100,000-mile warranty.
J.D. Power and Associates labeled the Hyundai brand second in their quality surveys during their 2004 studies. With all that success, there was still some corruption occurring at the top. In 2006, Chung Mong Koo was arrested and charged with embezzlement of 100 billion won (equals about $106 million US dollars).
That’s when the CEO and Vice Chairman, Kim Dong-jin replaced him. Since then, Hyundai continues to innovate and produce vehicles on a large scale throughout the world.
Alternative Propulsion Methods
Hyundai is no stranger to alternative methods of propulsion. In 1988, they created their first flexible-fuel concept vehicles. Their first electric car was the Sonata EV in 1991. Later, they produced other electric automobiles including the Grace, Excel, Atos, and Accent.
During the 1995 Seoul Motor Show, they unveiled a hybrid-electric FGV-1. This vehicle had full-time electric technology. By 1999, they entered their second generation of hybrid-electric vehicles. They played with a parallel design that used either the electric motor or ICE.
The Hyundai Sonata Hybrid went on sale in America during 2011. Other vehicles that used the company’s Blue Drive system with lithium polymer batteries included the Avante, Santa Fe Hybrid, and Elantra.
By 2014, they sold 200,000 hybrids worldwide. Their most recent line of hybrid and electric vehicles includes the Hyundai Ioniq and Sonata.
Hyundai Safety and Crash Ratings
The IIHS lists some Hyundai models as top safety picks. They are the Hyundai Elantra, Ioniq Hybrid, Sonata, Tucson, and Santa Fe. That is the majority of the vehicles they currently produce which says a lot about the safety of their vehicles.
The NHTSA also gives the Hyundai brand of vehicles high rankings.
Hyundai Safety Equipment
Hyundai believes in preventing accidents which is evident by their safety ratings. Some of the advanced safety features on their vehicles include Automatic Emergency Braking. This uses a radar sensor and camera to scan the road ahead and alert the driver of any possibility of crashing. If the driver doesn’t respond to the warning, the vehicle automatically brakes for them to protect the occupants.
With the Blind Spot Detection, Rear Cross-traffic Alert, plus Lane Change Assist, the vehicle helps drivers see what they wouldn’t otherwise. It’s like having more eyes on your head. There’s an audible warning for vehicles in the blind spot, objects behind the vehicle while backing up if the car next to you is in the way for a lane change.
With the car’s Lane Departure Warning, an audible signal is given when the driver drifts from their lane without using a turn signal. They also offer a Dynamic Bending Light which allows the headlights to move along with the steering wheel. This provides the best visibility while maneuvering dark turns.
Finally, their Automatic High Beam Assist switches the high beams off when other vehicles are detected.
Hyundai Safety Recalls
According to Wards Auto, Hyundai has one of the highest recall rates of any automaker. They placed #15 out of #18 by ranking better than Honda, Chrysler, and the Volkswagen Group. It’s also estimated that nearly 97% of their recalls were for things that potentially led to death, injury, crash, accidents, or fires.
The good news is that in 65% of the recall cases, the manufacturer volunteered to order vehicles back without being forced by the NHTSA.
Forbes pretty much agreed with Wards Auto, expect they received the final spot on their study.
They are no stranger to recalls. In fact, in 2017, they had two notable recalls that involved many vehicles. The first occurred in April when they recalled 1.4 million vehicles because engines were stalling and increasing the likelihood of a crash. This covered the 2013-2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport SUV, Sonata, 2011-2014 Kia Optima, 2011-2013 Kia Sportage SUV, and 2011-2013 Kia Sorento.
Then, later in the year, they had several recalls. The 2015-2016 Genesis and Sonata had over 160,000 vehicles recalled due to a faulty warning light which indicated that the parking brake was applied. Another 437,000 2013-2017 Hyundai Santa Fe vehicles were recalled because a secondary hood latch could corrode causing it to remain unlatched while the hood was closed. Another 17,000 2017 Santa Fe models were recalled because the driver’s seat belt anchor wasn’t tightened properly during assembly.
Consumer Satisfaction Reports & Dependability Ratings
According to Consumer Reports, Hyundai ranked average in terms of Owner Satisfaction. Their predicted reliability was rated on the good scale.
J.D. Power did their own study into the reliability and also gave Hyundai average ratings. They scored 4/5 on Overall Dependability, plus 3/5 on Powertrain Dependability, and Body and Interior Dependability. What’s unusual about the brand is that they received 5/5 for Feature and Accessory Dependability, which is almost unheard of for automakers.
Considering Hyundai isn’t a luxury automaker, their cost of ownership seems a little high. Consumer Reports estimated that over a three year period, the average cost of maintenance and repairs was $120. After a ten year period, that cost rose to $435. While the ten-year cost was low in comparison to many automakers, the three-year number was high.
The company is no stranger to winning awards. Some of the most prestigious over the past few years include:
- Kona wins the Red Dot in the Red Dot Award: Product Design 2018.
- 2018 Kona named one of the 10 Coolest New Cars Under $20,000 by KBB.com.
- 2018 Elantra GT named one of the 10 Coolest New Cars Under $20,000 by KBB.com.
- Tucson Ranked “Most Dependable Small SUV” in 2018.
- Hyundai named #1 In Customer Loyalty 9 Years in a Row.
- 2018 Sonata named a 2017 Good Design Award.
- Elantra was named 2017 Best New Car for Teens by U.S. News & World Report.
- Sonata named one of the 10 Most Awarded Cars of 2016 by Kelley Blue Book’s KBB.com.
- Sonata named a Best Bet for 2016 by The Car Book.
Hyundai Motor America
Since 1986, Hyundai Motor America has been responsible for the sales of cars in the United States. They started with just one model, the Excel. In their first year of business, they set records for the most cars sold during their introduction to the market. Their total sales in 1986 equaled over 168,000 units.
Even though the Excel was met with enthusiasm, it didn’t take long to spot the flaws. With cost-cutting at the top of the company’s priorities, there were some reliability issues. Immediately, the company’s sales plummeted causing some dealerships to abandon the brand.
To turn their reputation around, Hyundai invested in design, quality, long-term research, and manufacturing. To improve their image, they added free maintenance for the first two years or 24,000 miles in 1992. This was also when they started the Hyundai Advantage, their 10-year, 100,000-mile warranty.
By 2004, their sales increases by leaps and bounds and their reputation improved. They tied with the Honda Company in brand quality during J.D. Power surveys.
Hyundai has always invested in their American operations. By 1990, they opened the Hyundai Design Center located in Fountain Valley, California. By 2003, they moved to a newer $30 million location in Irvine, California. They also renamed it the Hyundai Kia Motors Design and Technical Center.
In 2004, they also opened the Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama plant. It cost them $1.7 billion and is located in Montgomery, Alabama. This plant assembles the Elantra, Sonata, and Theta engine. The Hyundai America Technical Center found its home in the $117 million location near Ann Arbor, Michigan. They moved into the 200,000 square-foot location in 2005.
The Hyundai America Technical Center also opened a proving ground in California City, California. Located in the Mojave Desert, this 4,300-acre center features an oval track, handling course, special surface roads, Vehicle Dynamics location, and paved hill track. There are also offices and plenty of indoor testing areas inside this 30,000 square-foot building.
The company isn’t immune from scandals and controversies. In 2012, the EPA discovered that 35% of their 2011-2013 vehicles inflated fuel economy statistics. Some of the vehicles’ inflation rose up to six miles per gallon. To remedy this, the company needed to compensate owners $395 million. They also had to put out $350 million for penalties to the government and another $41.2 million in investigative costs.
In Brazil, there was controversy over the Veloster engine. Many people felt that it wasn’t as powerful as the one that was advertised. Independent testing was done and found that Hyundai didn’t use the engine it claimed. Instead of delivering 138 horsepower, it only produced 119. That’s what earned it the Slowster nickname.
In 2013, the marketing department in the UK took a hit from the public. They released a commercial that showed a man who attempted suicide by sitting in his running ix35, but the vehicle’s emissions didn’t release carbon monoxide so the attempt was unsuccessful. After widespread criticism, the company stopped showing the video and issued an apology.
Snapshot of the Company
Hyundai Motor Company started officially in 1967 by Chung Ju-Yung in South Korea. They are listed on Forbes World’s Largest Public Companies at spot #147 with a worth of $31.6 billion. They also rank #77 in Sales, #242 in Profit, and #201 in Assets. Forbes also has them as #75 World’s Most Valuable Brands, #81 Top Regarded Companies, and #235 America’s Best Employers (2015).
They engage in manufacturing and distributing motor vehicles throughout the world. They have several business areas. The first is their vehicle division which produces and sells their automobiles. Their financial department focuses on credit cards, leasing, and financing. The company is involved in manufacturing railways.
They have a total of six research and development centers. Three of them are in South Korea. One is in India, another in Japan, and the final location is found in Germany. There’s a center located in California specifically for American designs.
In 2017, Hyundai combined with Genesis sold 685,555 vehicles. This was a 12% decline from their sales record set in 2016. The main reason for a decline was that they decreased fleet sales by 31%. In comparison, the retail sales only dropped 5%.
With that said, the Hyundai SUV sales were at an all-time record with almost 250,000 sold. This was a 12% increase over 2016. In total, the SUV sales represented 36% of the total sales. The Tucson saw the biggest gains with a 28% increase over 2016.
Hyundai Subsidiaries & Business Operations
The Hyundai Motor Group is based in South Korea. They are the country’s largest automobile manufacturer. It’s also the third largest in the world behind Toyota and Volkswagen. They formed in 1998 when Hyundai purchased Kia Motors for 51% of their stake. By 2013, they only owned 33.88%.
The Hyundai Motor Company also has several other affiliated companies. These include Hyundai Heavy Industries, Hyundai Department Store Group, Hyundai Marine & Fire Insurance, and Hyundai Development Company Group.
You might think the “H’ in their logo simply stands for their name, but there’s a deeper meaning behind it. The creation of the “h” was symbolized to represent two people shaking hands. One of the people is a representative of the company while the other is a happy customer.
The handshake stands for satisfaction and trust between the two. They even slanted the letter forward instead of passively backward.
The oval surrounding the people indicates the company’s desire for global expansion. It’s their goal to be a leader throughout the world market.
The silver used means sophistication, perfection, and creativity. It’s only normally this color when on the car’s grille. Otherwise, you see it in blue for supremacy, excellence, and reliability. The Hyundai logo hasn’t been transformed like other brands have, so it’s easy to remember what the company stands for.
Part of Hyundai’s marketing success has been their ability to offer exceptional service and warranty to customers. Their newest brand campaign, titled, “Live Brilliant” began in 2012. It’s an extension to the “Modern Premium” concept used by the company. They aimed to make each customer’s time with the company filled with memories and happiness.
They also participate in numerous sports sponsorships, including:
- UEFA Euro 2012
- Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors FC
- International Cricket Council
- FIFA World Cup
- UEFA European Championship
- Korea Football Association
- Inside the NBA
- Sun Bowl
- Hyundai Tournament of Champions
Some of their non-sports related sponsorships include:
- Academy Awards
- Hyundai Auto Club Philippines
- CNN Worldwide
In 2015, the Santa Fe became the official Popemobile for the Catholic Church. The vehicle was also used during the 2014 South Korea visit. The new topless SUV replaced the bulletproof Mercedes previously used.
Start of Motorsports Career
Hyundai began motorsports in 1998 while competing during the World Rally Championship in the F2 class. They continued into the 1999 year when they unveiled their Accent WRC. It was based on the Hyundai Accent and a specialized World Rally Car.
During the Swedish Rally in 2000, the Hyundai World Rally Team debuted. They also won their first top-ten finish during that year’s Argentina race. That’s when Kenneth Eriksson and Alister McRae took the seventh and eighth position. Later that year, Eriksson drove his car to take fifth place during the New Zealand race and fourth place in the Australia race.
The Hyundai Accent WRC debuted its newest evolution in 2001. They intended the more modern variety to improve in reliability, but it wasn’t good enough to compete against the four biggest competitors at the time: Subaru, Peugeot, Mitsubishi, and Ford. Despite that, by the end of the season, they achieved a fourth place with McRae and sixth place finish with Eriksson. It was their best result up until then.
During the 2002 racing season, Hyundai brought Juhn Kankkunen, a four-time champion to the team. He joined ranks with Armin Schwarz and Freddy Loix. The best result for the team that year was Kankkunen. He took fifth place during the New Zealand race and then managed a fourth place win during the manufacturers’ world championship.
Budget restraints hurt the team in 2003, making it harder for them to continue racing. That’s when the company announced their withdrawal from WRC and didn’t plan a return until 2006.
Return to Racing
Korea received a Formula One Grand Prix in 2010, but Hyundai didn’t enter. Instead, they waited until 2014 to make their appearance back in the World Rally Championship. The two teams racing a Hyundai i20 WRC ended up with fourth and seventh place finishes that year. The i20 WRC was built specifically for the rally races. It’s based upon their i20 subcompact vehicle.
The lead driver during that time was Thierry Neuville. He was the first rally driver to score a finish in the top three for Hyundai. He even took the win during the ADAC Rallye Deutschland that year.
In 2015, Neuville headed up the team once again in the i20 WRC. They took third and sixth place finishes. Then, in 2016, with Neuville still the front man, they changed out the car to a Hyundai New Generation i20 WRC. This time the team took second and fifth place finishes.
There are two Hyundai Museums located in South Korea. The first is the Hyundai Kia R&D Museum, which has been open since 2007. It’s located in Hwaseong Gyeonggi and has many of the company’s most significant cars on display. Currently, there are only about 20 to view but they house another 190 in storage.
Some of the most popular exhibits include the Hyundai Pony, Stellar, Accent, and Porter. To visit the museum, you need to be invited by someone from the Hyundai Motor Group. Otherwise, you need to be an employee of the company. Even then, visits occur in small groups and there are some limitations to photography.
Seoul houses the Hyundai Motor Studio. It’s located on a major intersection in the Gangnam district and can’t be missed. The interior design of the museum features steel pipes and anodized steel panels.
Each floor of the museum highlights a different part of the company’s image. On the third floor, they house all the premium models such as the Genesis, Grandeur, and Equus. On the fourth floor, they have the Sonata, Elantra, and Santa Fe on display. Then, the fifth floor holds the European i20 WRC, i30, and i40.
There’s even a library inside the building that showcases books and memorabilia surrounding the Hyundai brand.
Hyundai Motor Finance has their headquarters in Dallas, Texas. They offer numerous solutions for people looking at a Hyundai on lease or a Hyundai for sale. There are also special offers to those who qualify. New owners or lessees can take advantage of the College Grad incentives, Military offers, or their Certified Pre-Owned program. In addition, the company reimburses drivers up to $1,000 for qualified adaptive equipment for the handicapped.
Hyundai also offers its customers access to the Hyundai Power Protect insurance program. It saves most people about $500 a year and it’s underwritten by Liberty Mutual Insurance. This plan offers several benefits including, safety feature discounts, new car replacement protection, and accident forgiveness.
They also offer the Hyundai Rewards Program. This allows owners to save up for their next purchase. Customers earn 5% for shopping at the Hyundai online mall or at a participating dealer. This includes service work done to the Hyundai.
With new vehicle purchases, the company also offers the Owner Assurance Program. This entitles customers access to the Blue Link equipment as well as 24/7 Roadside Assistance during the first five years. The plan covers towing, battery jump-starts, and flat tire changes. The company even offers an app that works with Blue Link to perform tasks such as remote start, climate control, remote locking, vehicle health reports, maintenance alerts, and car finder.
They also still offer the comprehensive 10-year/100,000 mile warranty plus a limited hybrid battery warranty. All Hyundai Car Care is done through factory-trained service mechanics. They even provide free multi-point inspections. At their Car Care Express locations, oil changes are performed in one hour or less.
Hyundai Dealerships are located throughout the world with more than 800 locations in the United States. The Hyundai Shopper Assurance plan makes shopping for a new car easier than ever before.
They offer transparent pricing and flexible test drives. They’ll even bring a car to you if you want to see how it looks in your driveway. They also offer cash incentives for taking a test drive.
The streamlined purchase process allows you to review your purchase online before finalizing all the information. On top of that, the company offers a three-day worry-free guarantee. You can exchange your new car within three days if you aren’t satisfied.
When looking for a dealer, you’ll want to pay close attention to the awards they’ve been given. The Board of Excellence (BOE) award is only given to the top 10% of all Hyundai dealers in the United States. This prestigious honor is for top-performing dealerships that show excellence in efficiency and sales volume. To earn this achievement, dealers must be a top 35 volume dealer and a top 5 sales efficiency dealer.
Another place to look for a dealer is on the J.D. Power Dealer of Excellence list. These are the top dealerships of all brands throughout the United States. Currently, Hyundai of St. Augustine from Florida and Jeff Wyler Hyundai of Springfield, Ohio are both listed.
5 Interesting Facts about Hyundai
1 – Hyundai is a Korean word that means modernity.
2 – Hyundai is preparing for a Zombie Apocalypse. They work with “The Walking Dead” creators to create the first Zombie Survival vehicles.
3 – While most automobile companies get their steel from suppliers, Hyundai makes its own in South Korea. This allows the automaker to produce their own high-quality steel and offer vehicles at a lower cost than competitors. The Hyundai Steel Company is known for creating some of the best steel for vehicles which allows Hyundai to avoid using sub-par materials from another supplier.
4 – The company is big on their charitable efforts. They even have a 501(c)(3) organization called Hyundai Hope on Wheels. This group raises money to help children that have pediatric cancers. What started as an initiative in 1998 through some New England dealerships has turned into a full-time venture for the company. In the past twenty years, they’ve been able to raise $100 million toward pediatric cancer research, treatment, and care for those in need.
5 – Factory workers in South Korea end up with some nice perks. Everyone in the building at the Ulsan plant lives on-site. They also receive a free lunch every day. This isn’t just a cafeteria lunch; they have access to 24 restaurants to choose from. There’s also a green park for relaxation on the campus. The pay isn’t too shabby either. In a 2016 study, drivers at the factory were earning around $95,000 each year.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who Makes Hyundai? Hyundai vehicles are manufactured by the Hyundai Motor Company. They are based in South Korea and also own Kia as well as Genesis. The Ulsan factory is the largest automobile facility in the world and can produce up to 1.6 million vehicles each year.
What is the Hyundai Country of Origin? Hyundai is a South Korean company.
Who was the Hyundai Founder? Hyundai was originally founded in 1947 by entrepreneur and businessman Chung Ju-Yung. However, the automotive arm of the Hyundai Engineering and Construction Company, the Hyundai Motor Company, wasn’t established until 1967.
Are Hyundais Reliable? Yes, most of the major studies conclude that Hyundai vehicles are reliable, especially when you factor in the lower costs associated with them.
Where are Hyundais Made? The Ulsan factory in South Korea is responsible for making most of the vehicles sold overseas. There are many other factories located throughout the world. However, over half of the vehicles sold in the United States are actually made in the country. They have a manufacturing facility located in Montgomery, Alabama. The company also runs an engineering facility in Michigan, plus a design and research facility in California.
Does Hyundai Own Kia? In 1998, Hyundai purchased 51% of Kia Motors. By 2013, they owned 33.88% of the company. These two companies are both part of the Hyundai Motor Company.
Do Hyundai Warranties Transfer? While they are known for their extensive powertrain warranty, the majority of coverage is not available to anyone but the first owner.
Does Hyundai Make a Minivan? They do not currently offer a minivan, but they created one in 2007. The Entourage was a rebadged Kia Sedona but it didn’t fare well with consumers and wasn’t around for long.
What is the Luxury Brand of Hyundai? Genesis Motors is the newest division from the group. They provide luxury vehicles and have been a standalone marque for the brand since November 2015.