Hyundai Through The Years
Hyundai turned to auto production with the formation of the Hyundai Motor Company in 1967. In the following year, Hyundai established an alliance with Ford, signing a two-year contract in which the companies shared assembly technology. The first Hyundai built was the Cortina, a product of Hyundai's relationship with Ford.
Hyundai had the distinction of releasing the first Korean car, the Pony, which made its domestic debut in 1974. The Pony featured styling by Giorgio Giugiaro of the famed Italian automobile and design firm, ItalDesign. It also featured powertrain technology developed by Japanese automaker Mitsubishi. A year later, Hyundai began exporting the Pony to overseas markets like Ecuador.
Hyundai began exporting cars to Canada in 1986. Initially, Hyundai was unable to sell cars in the United States, as the Pony didn't meet emission standards.
Hyundai in America
Hyundai finally was able to enter into the U.S. market in 1986. The first car the company introduced stateside was the subcompact Excel, which was essentially the Pony retooled and rebranded for the American market. The car was an instant hit with the American auto-buying public, and 100,000 of the vehicles were sold during its first seven months on the market. It also received a nomination for Fortune's 10 Best Products.
Hyundai followed up on the success of the Excel with the midsize Sonata, released in 1988. The Sonata had existed previously and was popular in the Korean domestic market. The U.S. economical midsize version also featured styling by Giorgetta Giugiaro and ItalDesign.
However, by the early 1990s, the Hyundai brand garnered an unwanted reputation for unreliability. Sales faltered, and by the end of the 1990s, the company was in the process of retooling its U.S. brand and image. Their efforts have proved successful, and in 2004, Hyundai ranked second in "initial quality" in a survey conducted by a global marketing information services firm. Today, Hyundai has regained its standing in the U.S. market and is currently ranked as one of the top 100 most valuable brands worldwide.
Hyundai currently offers a diverse roster of vehicles in the American market. While the Excel was discontinued in 1994, the Sonata is still in production today and is even available as a hybrid. Nearly a quarter century after it was initially introduced, the Sonata remains a comfortable, likeable sedan that's affordable, versatile and still offers a wide variety of options.
In 1995, Hyundai introduced the affordable Hyundai Accent. The Accent may lack some of the style of the Sonata but it more than makes up for it with fuel economy and offers exceptional performance for being one of the more affordable vehicles currently on the market.
In 2008, the automaker introduced the Hyundai Genesis is a full-size luxury car, which can largely be viewed as Hyundai's counter to those who wished to write the company off as second-rate during the mid-1990s. Marketed as a "premium sports sedan," the Genesis offers performance and luxury extras along with adequate fuel economy for a full-size vehicle.
The Hyundai Tucson is a compact, crossover SUV that was released in 2004. Economical, versatile, and affordably priced, the Tucson is a five-door is the automaker's entry-level crossover offering.
In 2006, Hyundai launched their most luxurious SUV to date, the Veracruz. A crossover SUV, the Veracruz boasts a spacious, quiet cabin and a list of standard features that would be considered upscale extras on most other vehicles. The Veracruz is capable of accommodating seven passengers and is highly rated by those in the automotive industry.
Hyundai Products and Technologies
Hyundai found immediate success in the U.S. market through the introduction of affordable, economy-minded vehicles like the Excel and Sonata. When questions about the quality of their products arose, the company responded well by improving the cars they produce and striving to become a world-class brand. Today, Hyundai cars are considered reliable, quality vehicles, and the brand is respected around the world.
Vehicles like the Sonata, the Accent. and the Genesis are popular with American drivers for their reliability, economy, and even their style. Meanwhile, Hyundai also produces crossover SUVs like the affordable Tucson and the more upmarket Veracruz. Hyundai has further combatted its reputation for being unreliable by offering consumers some of the longest warranties in the industry.