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Published on Fri Oct 14 2022

The History Of The Car Manufacturer, Hyundai

Hyundai is one of the most recognizable car companies in the world, selling to customers in almost 193 countries through 5000 dealerships and showrooms.

The company has been designing and manufacturing cars for decades, and even the meaning of the company's name is derived from the Korean word “hanja”. The word “hanja” means modernity in the Korean language.

Hyundai has come a long way since the days of its inception. This article will help you understand the company's beginnings and its journey to the top of the automotive industry.

Early Days

Chung Ju-Yung originally founded Hyundai in 1947 as a construction and engineering company. The name of the company was called the Hyundai Engineering and Construction Company.

World War 2 had a massive impact on South Korea's economy and other vital aspects. This prompted Hyundai's founder, Chung Ju-Yung, to start a business to help rebuild and industrialize South Korea.

The company took assistance from government agencies and expanded its activities to various other industries in South Korea. However, the Korean War spoiled all his plans of building up the company as the country's biggest. He was forced to take his abilities elsewhere and found work in the Korean Ministry of Transport.

While working at the Korean Ministry of Transport, Chung Ju-Yung was inspired to start a motor company in South Korea. The Hyundai Motor Company was finally established in 1967, headed by Chung Ju-Yung.

The first car model Hyundai manufactured was the Cortina. It was released in 1968, just six months after the company was founded. The company made a deal with Ford Motor Company to designate Hyundai as the assembler of the Ford Cortina.

Hyundai's manufacturing plant was based in Ulsan, South Korea, and produced the Ford Cortina until 1982 under license. Releasing the Cortina became such a hit that it paved the way for more innovations and better cars.

Stepping Into Mass Production

The production of the Cortina was such an outstanding achievement for the Hyundai Motor Company that Chung Ju-Yung decided to put in more effort in becoming creative. He wanted to build a separate automotive company to manufacture top-class vehicles for the people of South Korea.

His dream was to mass-produce affordable cars of the highest quality, so he recruited foreigners who were experts in the field of car manufacturing and designing.

One of his recruitments was George Turnbull, who was working as the managing director of Austin Morris in Britain. Chung Ju-Yung also hired several British engineers and other automotive engineers.

This venture between Chung Ju-Yung and Turnbull saw the company reach new heights, especially with the release of the Pony in 1976. They designed this car to make it the first ever mass-produced car in South Korea.

The Pony would help take Hyundai's name to all parts of the world, not just South Korea. It had an Italian style due to the contribution by Giorgio Giugiaro, a Japanese Mitsubishi engine designed by British engineers and manufactured in Korea.

This car had all the qualities required to become a hit in international automobile markets. Hyundai began all the necessary arrangements to export the Pony into the global marketplace. Within a short span, Hyundai first exported the car to Ecuador.

The Pony soon grew popular in Ecuador, and Hyundai started taking it to other parts of South America. It finally reached Europe and North America, becoming the highest-selling car in some countries.

Hyundai's Pony especially became a big hit in Canada, so much that it started making ripples in the American automotive market. The company's goal was to reach the US market and become one of the top players in the industry.

Search For Excellence

The South Korean public was easy to please with the cars Hyundai were manufacturing. The company was able to sell the Cortina and Pony to the Korean people, even though the cars had some quality issues.

This was not the case in the markets overseas, as the foreign buyers were more challenging to please. There were several issues that Hyundai needed to take care of before it could convince foreign buyers to invest in its cars. The most important factor among these issues was quality control.

Hyundai's executives were smart enough to realize that their primary focus should be on providing excellence, not just in affordability but also in regard to the standards required for foreign markets.

This was the start of Hyundai's focus on long-term strategies for quality control. Hyundai saw massive growth in the international markets until the mid-80s, but it wasn't until 1986 that Hyundai achieved its main target.

The company finally broke into the American market due to its focus on manufacturing cars with low carbon emissions and other US standards. It was difficult at the start for the company, but with everyone's hard work, it was able to get hold of the golden goose.

Hyundai In The 21st Century

Hyundai has become one of the leading car manufacturers in the world, maintaining 12 manufacturing plants in 10 countries. Though the company has come a long way since its inception in 1967 as a motor company, Hyundai remains the same at its core.

The original car manufacturing plant in Ulsan remains Hyundai's single biggest integrated car manufacturing center in the world. Though Chung Ju-Yung expired in 2001, he never would have imagined, even in his wildest dreams, that Hyundai Motors would become a mass-producer of quality cars worldwide.

The only change seen in the modern day is that Hyundai has started manufacturing cars that add premium value to a customer's daily life. Hyundai's models, like the Santa Fe and Sonata, are testaments to the company's focus on manufacturing cars with exceptional design and superior technology.

Hyundai has also been expanding into the car rally sport, consistently ranking in the top tier of the World Rally Championships. It is also moving into the luxury car business with a model called Genesis, which is set to take the world by storm.

Though Hyundai has been in the automotive business for a long time, it feels like the best is yet to come.