In the words of Steve Kelleher, President and CEO of Hyundai Auto Canada, Hyundai is “perhaps not the company you thought we were…” and he could not be more accurate. The early days of the Cortina, Pony and Excel are long gone – it’s almost as if they were produced by a different manufacturer altogether than the one behind today’s sexy lineup of Velosters, Elantras and Santa Fes.
So what is the magic behind Hyundai’s rise to becoming one of the world’s largest manufacturers in such a short period of time? How is Hyundai’s philosophy and vision driving innovation and production?
Hyundai Motor Company was founded in 1967 by brothers Chung Ju-yung and Se-yung in Seoul, Korea. Its iconic “H” symbolizes the shaking of hands between the customer and the company. Dedicated to innovation and the discovery of new possibilities, Hyundai is literally true to its name, which in Korean means “modernity.”
Hyundai’s philosophy is to realize the dream of mankind by creating a new future through ingenious thinking and continuously challenging new frontiers. In practical terms, Hyundai is methodically re-examining the entire concept of the automobile from simply a means of transport, to:
- a space that connects people and places,
- an experience driven by ultimate customer service, and
- a technology that maximizes environmental sustainability and connectivity with customers.
A collaboration with Ford Motor Company on the Cortina marked Hyundai’s debut in the global auto industry. A few years later in 1975, Hyundai launched its first independently produced vehicle, the Pony Sedan; the Excel followed soon after in 1986. After facing a number of obstacles to its growth and other challenges, Hyundai underwent a major re-branding in the 1990s, which included a majority investment in Kia Motors, and led to a turnaround that has shaped what is today one of the world’s largest and progressive auto manufacturers.
The original lineup:
As part of its re-branding efforts, Hyundai began heavily investing resources into research and development of their vehicles to improve quality, design and performance. A new assembly plant was established in Montgomery, Alabama, and a Design Center in Irvine, California during the early 2000s. In 2009, Hyundai began work on a new design language it calls Fluidic Sculpture. Unveiled at the Milan Design Week in April 2013, the language draws inspiration from cues in nature on design and functionality and infuses these elements into its vehicle concepts.
Integral to Hyundai’s recent evolution has also been its attention to developing eco-friendly vehicles. Hyundai understands the impact of fossil fuels and the importance of preserving the environment, and has taken steps towards creating processes that promote sustainability. The Blue Drive initiative was launched with the vision of making environmental efficiency more affordable. Along with Blue Drive, Hyundai is developing for its customers an array of eco-friendly alternatives, including: fuel cell, hybrid and electric vehicles.
Hyundai’s efforts have not gone unnoticed; its vehicles have won numerous prestigious awards including the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) 2013 Best New Small Car (Elantra) and SUV (Santa Fe) Awards, 2012 Best New Design (Veloster) and Canadian Car of the Year (Elantra) Awards and 2012 Most Dependable Midsize Car to name a few. Design has not come at the expense of safety, as Hyundai models have also picked up a number of safety awards including 2013 and 2012 IIHS Top Safety Picks.
Through its emergence into the spotlight, Hyundai is quickly gaining popularity among automotive companies in Canada. According to The Globe and Mail, the Hyundai Elantra edged out the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla and Mazda3 for the number one spot in first quarter sales of 2013. The Accent also made the list, giving Hyundai two of the top 10 spots along with Honda and Ford.
Snapshots from Hyundai’s current lineup:
Hyundai Motor Company has experienced a tremendous amount of success over the past couple of years. Through challenges they have adapted, pivoted and succeeded in achieving their mission of innovating and designing dependable, award-winning, safe and stylish vehicles while improving environmental efficiency.
Destination Auto Group is proud to be metro Vancouver’s only franchised dealer of Hyundai vehicles since 2009. At Destination Hyundai, we believe in Hyundai’s vision of New Thinking. New Possibilities; come visit us at 445 Kingsway and prepare to be inspired.
Sources: Hyundai Worldwide and Hyundai Canada websites, Hyundai Blog, Globe and Mail, and Wikipedia.