Hyundai Motors Company is a Korean automaker which along with Kia comprises the Hyundai Kia Automotive Group, the world's fourth largest automaker as of 2009. As of 2009, it is the world's fastest growing automaker. In 2008, Hyundai (without Kia) ranked as the eighth largest automaker.
Headquartered in Seoul, South Korea, Hyundai operates the world's largest integrated automobile manufacturing facility in Ulsan, which is capable of producing 1.6 million units annually. The company employs about 75,000 persons around the world. Hyundai vehicles are sold in 193 countries through some 6,000 dealerships and showrooms worldwide. In 2010, Hyundai sold over 1.7 million vehicles worldwide.
Chung Ju-Yung founded the Hyundai Engineering and Construction Company in 1947. Hyundai Motor Company was later established in 1967. The company's first model, the Cortina, was released in cooperation with Ford Motor Company in 1968. When Hyundai wanted to develop their own car, they hired George Turnbull, the former Managing Director of Austin Morris at British Leyland. He in turn hired five other top British car engineers.They were Kenneth Barnett body design, engineers John Simpson and Edward Chapman, John Crosthwaite ex-BRM as chassis engineer and Peter Slater as chief development engineer. In 1975, the Pony, the first Korean car, was released, with styling by Giorgio Giugiaro of ItalDesign and powertrain technology provided by Japan's Mitsubishi Motors. Exports began in the following year to Ecuador and soon thereafter to the Benelux countries. In 1991, the company succeeded in developing its first proprietary gasoline engine, the four-cylinder Alpha, and transmission, thus paving the way for technological independence.
In 1983, Hyundai exported the Pony to Canada, but not to the United States, because the Pony didn't pass emissions standards there. Canadian sales greatly exceeded expectations, and it was at one point the top-selling car on the Canadian market. The Pony afforded a much higher degree of quality and refinement in the lowest price auto segment than the Eastern-bloc imports of the period then available.
In 1986, Hyundai began to sell cars in the United States, and the Excel was nominated as "Best Product #10" by Fortune magazine, largely because of its affordability. The company began to produce models with its own technology in 1988, beginning with the midsize Sonata.
In 1996, Hyundai Motors India Limited was established with a production plant in Irrungattukotai near Chennai, India.
In 1998, Hyundai began to overhaul its image in an attempt to establish itself as a world-class brand. Chung Ju Yung transferred leadership of Hyundai Motor to his son, Chung Mong Koo, in 1999. Hyundai's parent company, Hyundai Motor Group, invested heavily in the quality, design, manufacturing, and long-term research of its vehicles. It added a 10-year or 100,000-mile (160,000 km) warranty to cars sold in the United States and launched an aggressive marketing campaign.
In 2004, Hyundai was ranked second in "initial quality" in a survey/study by J.D. Power and Associates. Hyundai is now one of the top 100 most valuable brands worldwide. Since 2002, Hyundai has also been one of the worldwide official sponsors of the FIFA World Cup.
Hyundai has invested in manufacturing plants in the North America, India, Czech Republic, Pakistan, China and Turkey as well as research and development centers in Europe, Asia, North America, and the Pacific Rim. In 2004, Hyundai Motor Company had $57.2 billion in sales in South Korea making it the country's second largest corporation, or chaebol. Worldwide sales in 2005 reached 2,533,695 units, an 11 percent increase over the previous year. Hyundai has set as its 2006 target worldwide sales of 2.7 million units (excluding exports of CKD kits). In 2007 it reached 3,961,629 worldwide vehicle sales—surpassing Fiat, Chrysler, PSA/Peugeot, Nissan, and Honda.
Hyundai motor vehicles are sold in 193 countries through some 5,000 dealerships and showrooms. After a recent survey of global automotive sales, Hyundai is now the fourth largest automaker in the world as of 2009.
Hyundai Motor Company's brand power continues to rise as it was ranked 72nd in the 2007 Best Global Brands by Interbrand and BusinessWeek survey. brand value estimated at $4.5 billion. Public perception of the Hyundai brand has been transformed as a result of dramatic improvements in the quality of Hyundai vehicles.
Since 2004, Hyundai has supplied about 3,000 hybrid versions of its Getz and Accent small cars to government fleets as part of a testing program. The automaker cites a lack of local tax benefits for purchasing hybrids as a barrier to its hybrid development program. But Hyundai expects the tax situation to change in 2009.
The new hybrid electric Sonata made its debut at the Los Angeles International Auto Show in November 2008. Hyundai expects to release it in the U.S. market in 2010, featuring lithium-ion battery technology.
Hyundai plan to begin producing hybrid electric vehicles in 2009. The company is going to use Hybrid Blue Drive, which includes lithium polymer batteries, as opposed to lithium-ion. The Avante was be the first vehicle to be produced. Other are the Santa Fe Hybrid, the Elantra, Sonata Hybrid (to the U.S. market in 2010) and the Hyundai i20, which will replace the Hyundai Getz.
Hyundai began producing the Elantra LPI Hybrid (or Avante in the local market) was launched in the South Korean domestic market in July 2009. The Elantra LPI (Liquefied Petroleum Injected) is the world's first hybrid electric vehicle to be powered by an internal combustion engine built to run on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) as a fuel. The Elantra PLI is a mild hybrid and the first hybrid to adopt advanced lithium polymer (Li–Poly) batteries.
The Hyundai Blue Will plug-in hybrid has made its U.S. debut at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit 2010.
In 2010 the company is going to launch the mass-market Hyundai i10 EV. Includes a LG 16 kW·h lithium-ion battery, for 100 miles (160 km) all electric range, and a 49 kW·h electric motor
At the 2010 Geneva Motor Show, Hyundai unveiled the i-flow, a concept car using a variant of the BLUE-WILL hybrid system. The i-flow Concept uses a 1.7-liter twin-turbo diesel engine along with electric batteries to achieve fuel economy of 3 litres per 100 kilometres (94 mpg-imp; 78 mpg-US). Hyundai says a production car based on the i-flow's design will be in production by 2011.
Hyundai entered motorsport by competing in the F2 class of the World Rally Championship in 1998 and 1999. In September 1999, Hyundai unveiled the Accent WRC, a World Rally Car based on the Hyundai Accent. The Hyundai World Rally Team debuted the car at the 2000 Swedish Rally and achieved their first top-ten result at that year's Rally Argentina, when Alister McRae and Kenneth Eriksson finished seventh and eighth, respectively. Eriksson later drove the car to fifth place in New Zealand and fourth in Australia. In 2001, Hyundai debuted a new evolution of the Accent WRC, which was intended to improve reliability, but the performance of the car was still not good enough to challenge the four big teams (Ford, Mitsubishi, Peugeot and Subaru). However, at the season-ending Rally GB, the team achieved their best result with McRae finishing fourth and Eriksson sixth.
For the 2002 season, Hyundai hired the four-time world champion Juha Kankkunen, along with Freddy Loix and Armin Schwarz. Kankkunen's fifth place in New Zealand was the team's best result, but they managed to edge out Škoda and Mitsubishi by one point in the battle for fourth place in the manufacturers' world championship. In September 2003, after a season hampered by budget constraints, Hyundai announced withdrawal from the WRC and planned to return in 2006, which did not happen.