Learn the Interesting History of Hyundai

Among the largest and most global industries in the world is the automotive industry. The Hyundai Motor Company is a rising star in the global automotive industry. The largest automaker in South Asia produces about a dozen models of cars, vans, trucks, buses, and other commercial vehicles. 

The company has succeeded in internationalizing successfully, seemingly against all odds. This South Korean automaker, which is still creating and introducing cutting-edge goods, has become one of the most recognizable names in the world. Hyundai Motor Company has been a leader in automotive technology since its founding in 1967. Indeed, Hyundai is a global brand, and this is the story of its humble beginnings.

Hyundai’s Humble Beginning

Chu Ju Yung, Hyundai Founder

Hyundai was not initially a car company; Chung Ju-Yung founded Hyundai Engineering and Construction Company in 1947 to help with the post-World War II reconstruction of South Korea. The name “Hyundai” is derived from the Korean words “Hyun,” which means “modern” or “present,” and “Dai,” which denotes “period” or “generation.”

However, due to the start of the Korean War, things did not go well for the Hyundai Engineering and Construction company. Ju-Yung consequently focused on collaborating with the UN forces and the Korean Ministry of Transportation. As South Korea quickly industrialized after being freed in 1945, the corporation was given significant government construction contracts and oversaw the construction of much of the nation’s transportation infrastructure. Among other significant structures, it constructed the Kyeong-bu expressway.

Hyundai Motor Company began operations in 1967. The company’s Ulsan assembly plant’s construction was finished the following year. With a production capacity of 1.6 million vehicles per year, it is currently the world’s biggest integrated automobile manufacturing complex. Hyundai Motor Group has complete control over the whole value chain thanks to a worldwide vessel fleet run by Hyundai Glovis and a steel-making affiliate of its own.

Hyundai currently dominates the home Korean market and exports automobiles to 190 nations. Hyundai is a well-known brand in the Philippines. In the Philippines, some of the well-known Hyundai vehicles are the Starex, Tucson, and Eon, with the Accent being recognized as the company’s best-selling vehicle locally.

Significant Years in the Success of Hyundai

Hyundai has proved that great determination pays off; despite great challenges threatening the company’s fall, it continued innovating and adapting to the changes brought about by fast-changing technology. Here are the significant events that contributed to the success of Hyundai.

The 1960s-1980s The Era of Mass Production


The Cortina was the first vehicle successfully put together by Hyundai in partnership with Ford Motor Company in 1968 at its Ulsan facility. In just under six months, Hyundai established a record for the shortest time between groundbreaking and full-scale operations at any Ford assembly facility worldwide.

Hyundai decided to create its vehicle in response to Cortina’s early popularity and subsequent dominance of the European market. In February 1974, the business hired Austin Morris’ previous managing director George Turnbull from British Leyland. He immediately hired two chassis designers, two production engineers, a test engineer, and six European chief engineers to help him. 

The Hyundai Pony, the second vehicle built by Hyundai and the first mass-produced vehicle in South Korea, was designed by Giorgio Giugiaro of ItalDesign and had a powertrain supplied by Mitsubishi as part of George’s effort to produce high-quality vehicles. This signaled the launch of an innovative and flourishing business in South Korea and globally.

Before being released on the market in December 1975, the Pony was first displayed at the Italian Turin Motor Show in October 1974. The car was given the name “kukmincha,” which translates as “car for the people.” This little rear-wheel-drive car was the first South Korean vehicle to be mass-produced. For many years, it served as Hyundai’s flagship vehicle.

In the same year, Hyundai began exporting the Pony to Chile, Argentina, Colombia, and Egypt. Greece joined shortly after the start of European exports to Belgium and the Netherlands in 1978. As a result, in 1985, the Korean carmaker unveiled Pony Excel for the international market. In 1986, Pony Excel was introduced to the American market. Within a year, 26,000 units had been sold, even though it has repeatedly failed to sell to the US because the emission criteria still need to be met. Regardless, the Pony’s sales exceeded those anticipated, and in 1985 it was the most popular vehicle on the Canadian market. Not to mention that the one-millionth Hyundai was produced just ten years after its debut.

1980’s to 1990s International Expansion and Quality Management

Hyundai Pony

As Hyundai competed with more established automakers, the 1980s saw the firm rapidly expand internationally. The business initially made its way onto the British market in 1982. The Pony became the first Korean automobile to be sold in the UK when it started to be offered there in February of that year.

In 1983, the Stellar midsize sedan made its debut. It is Hyundai’s second independently produced vehicle, and Giugiaro once more conceived the design. Hyundai unveiled other vehicles over the years, such as the Presto and the Sporty, a hatchback with a “sporty” design. In 1986, Hyundai unveiled the Grace minivan, which had a turbo diesel engine with 85 horsepower. The diesel engine is the first of its sort, according to Hyundai. The Korean automaker also provided an ambulance version of the Grace minivan.

By 1986, one of the finest vehicles of all time, the Pony Excel, had become the first Hyundai model offered in the United States. It was a modified Pony that produced little carbon dioxide. Hyundai subsequently started selling automobiles in the US. Giorgetto Giugiaro also created the original Pony and designed the company’s first front-wheel-drive vehicle. The Excel was an instant hit, selling more than 100,000 units in just seven months and 168,000 units in the US in its first year of sales, a figure that still stands today. Because of its low price, Fortune magazine nominated the automobile as their “Best Product #10.”

The H100 pickup truck, one of Hyundai’s longest-running models, was introduced in 1987. The midsize Sonata car was introduced in 1988. Hyundai has shown success with the vehicle, as seen by the third-generation Sonata’s sales of more than 1 million units. The little Elantra sedan, another well-liked Hyundai vehicle, was introduced in 1990. The Elantra has sold 8.6 million cars worldwide since its introduction. Hyundai started building vehicles using its technologies in 1988. As a result, a new era was inaugurated with the birth of the midsize car known as the Sanata. Hyundai automobiles were produced at an overall volume of four million units in the spring of 1990.

Hyundai tested a variety of electric and hybrid vehicles in the 1990s. Sonata Electric Vehicle prototype, the company’s first all-electric vehicle, debuted in 1991. The hybrid-electric FGV-1 debuted at the 1995 Seoul Motor Show after the company conducted its initial tests with hybrid propulsion systems in 1994. This vehicle had a fully electric drivetrain. In addition to the company’s operations in fuel-cell electric vehicles, flexible-fuel vehicle development began in 1998.

The company then achieved another significant milestone in 1991 when it created its transmission and its own unique four-cylinder gasoline engine, the Alpha. Independence in technology was made possible by this. The Hyundai Scoupe introduced the Alpha engine in 1992. Hyundai developed and strengthened its position as a top automaker internationally throughout this decade. At this time, Hyundai introduced several well-liked cars.

The business started running a brand-new R&D facility in Germany in 1994. In addition to planning and engineering new cars for the European market, this oversees keeping track of technological advancements in the continent. Hyundai launched its first production facility on the continent at Izmit, Turkey, in September 1997. It has been producing goods overseas for Hyundai for the longest.

To increase sales, the business launched Hyundai Motor India Limited in 1996 and built a production facility in Chennai, India. Two years later, Hyundai introduced very dependable vehicles, solidifying its position as a top-tier manufacturer. Due to his declining health, Hyundai’s founder Chung Ju-Yung handed over the leadership to his son Chung Mong Koo in 1998.

After being appointed chairman of the Hyundai Motor Group in 1999, Chairman Mong-Koo Chung decided to prioritize product quality, which helped the business establish a strong global position. But Hyundai’s once-impressive reputation had been seriously harmed by concerns about poor quality and dependability. It was now in serious trouble in the American market. Nevertheless, the business persisted and produced significant vehicle technology and design advancements. After some time, Hyundai started to rebuild its reputation.

2000 Bringing Higher Value Products

Hyundai Sta.Fe

To position itself as a top-tier brand by the turn of the millennium, Hyundai has started to revamp its image. In Europe, in particular, its parent company, Hyundai Motor Group, made significant investments in the long-term research, manufacturing, and quality control of its vehicles. Hyundai used a strong marketing strategy in 2000 to alleviate any concerns about the dependability of its vehicles. This marketing promotion covered vehicles bought in the US with a 10-year guarantee. Businesses could only provide such a warranty; therefore, Hyundai quickly rose to become one of the top 10 automakers in the world. After the establishment of the Hyundai European Design Center in 2001, the Hyundai Motor Europe Technical Center and Namyang Design Center followed in 2003.

In 2000, Hyundai introduced the Santa Fe, their first SUV. It immediately became the best-selling vehicle for the company. It was given the name New Mexico city, and it was popular with American consumers. Over 1 million automobiles and $10 billion worth of exports of vehicles were made by 2003. Hyundai’s Click won India’s Car of the Year two years later, and in 2006, sales surpassed KRW 1 trillion. The Tucson, another SUV, debuted in 2004 because of this. The i30 was unveiled in 2007. It is Hyundai Motor’s DNA vehicle in Europe, having been developed, designed, and produced there. 

The following year saw the establishment of Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Czech. The most cutting-edge manufacturing facility in Europe, HMMC, produces 1,500 Hyundai automobiles daily using 500 sophisticated robots. The hybrid electric Sonata, which uses lithium polymer, premiered at the 2008 Los Angeles International Auto Show. It went on sale in the United States in 2011. 

Hyundai Today 

Hyundai i10

Hyundai has shifted its focus more and more toward eco-friendly automobiles and technology throughout the 2010s. By increasing fuel economy and looking for new energy sources, the company hopes to pioneer the future of pollution-free transportation. Hyundai unveiled BlueOn, its first mass-produced electric vehicle, in Seoul at the start of the decade in September 2010. Based on the Hyundai i10 sold in South Korea, BlueOn had a 16.4 kWh lithium polymer battery pack that required six hours to charge fully. 

As the first hydrogen fuel cell vehicle to be mass-produced for commercial use, Hyundai hailed a significant achievement in eco-mobility in 2013 with the introduction of the ix35 Fuel Cell. The vehicle’s rapid refueling time, long-range, and environmental conservation offer more advantages for everyone. By establishing the Hyundai Motorsport World Rally Championship squad the same year, the business also entered the world of motorsport. Hyundai introduced the high-performance Hyundai N sub-brand in 2015. As a result, award-winning production vehicles like the i30 N and i30 Fastback N in 2017 and 2018 were created.

Hyundai unveiled the IONIQ in 2016, the first automobile in the world with three electrified engine options: hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and full electric. Its name combines the terms “ion” and “unique.” The Kona Electric, the first fully electric subcompact SUV in Europe, and NEXO, Hyundai’s second-generation fuel cell car, were introduced in 2018.

Euisun Chung, executive vice chairman of Hyundai Motor Group, was chosen co-chair of the Hydrogen Council in January 2019. This CEO-led alliance of businesses from various industries and energy sectors aims to hasten hydrogen technologies’ development and global adoption. Since then, he has urged greater international collaboration to address the difficulties associated with the global climate. Hyundai Motor Group’s “FCEV Vision 2030” aims to use its fuel cell technologies in the future. This entails a strategy to significantly increase its annual fuel cell system production capacity to 700,000 units by 2030 and investigate new business prospects to offer them additional transportation, power generation, and storage system industries.

There is no stopping Hyundai from reaching its milestones and progress. Hyundai introduced the Accent in 1994, a vehicle with 100% independently designed Hyundai parts. Among other countries, the Accent succeeded in becoming and is still a well-liked automobile in the US, Russia, China, India, and the Philippines.

Conc lusion

One of the cliches attached to every success story is that “big things come from modest beginnings.” The adage holds since success requires climbing up the career ladder. History molds progress: it doesn’t happen by accident. Hyundai is one of several businesses worldwide that has put a lot of effort and belief into realizing its goals.

As of now, Hyundai has established itself as the industry leader in future mobility in the automotive sector. This is demonstrated in the business’ ‘Progress’ marketing campaign, which goes by the tagline “Next Awaits” and shows how Hyundai’s 50-year heritage shaped the progressive mentality that enables it to develop today and confront the challenges of the future. Hyundai is among the pioneers in the field of future transportation thanks to its progressive mentality. The brand made significant investments in low-emission gasoline engines, hydrogen-powered fuel cells, and electrified vehicles—more so than other automakers—to meet the difficulties posed by climate change.