Hyundai first arrived on the shores of the United States in 1986; however, the company itself has been around much longer. Originally founded in 1947 by Chung Ju-Yung as the Hyundai Engineering and Construction Company, Hyundai Motor Corporation was established in 1967. Hyundai released its first car the Cortina in 1968 and even then, it was associated with a United States company, Ford Motors.
By 1986, Hyundai was ready for America. Hyundai started gradually with a single model that year, the Excel. Offered with a variety of options and trim models at a very attractive price, the Excel set a record with the most automobiles sold for a company in its first year. Although the Excel got off to a good start, it was plagued by various flaws. From serious engine failures to malfunctions in window regulators and door handles, word soon got out and sales took a nosedive.
Hyundaiâ€™s true interests lie in creating a new image for itself. Hyundai wanted to compete on higher level than it had previously so in 1998 Hyundaiâ€™s parent company, Hyundai Motors took a direct interest in pushing Hyundai to the front in as world class brand. Chung Ju-Yung, the founder of the company, handed the reins to his son Chung Mong Koo and an aggressive marketing campaign began.
Hyundai went back to the drawing board and proceeded to invest more in quality and manufacturing. It added a 10 year 100,000 mile power train warranty, something still rare in the auto world today, and by 2004 was able to turn around its negative image. Sales rose and in 2004 Hyundai tied with Honda for initial brand quality in a survey from J.D. Power and Associates.
Hyundai has invested heavily in its American market, building Hyundai America Technical Center in California City, California in 2004. This is a 4,300-acre complex located in the Mojave Desert. Hyundai has construed a 6.4-mile oval test track, a Vehicle Dynamics Area and a series of special surface roads for the testing of prototype vehicles. California is not the only place Hyundai maintains a United States presence. In May of 2005, an assembly plant was opened just outside Montgomery, Alabama. The plant employs 2,000 workers. Although this is Hyundaiâ€™s second attempt to produce cars in North America, the first was a Canadian plant that was closed in 1993, the future is brighter for the venture this time as Hyundai continues to gain quality rankings and sales continue to increase.
By 2006, Hyundai had managed to rank third in J.D. Powers and Associates quality ranking which was just behind Porsche and Lexus. In fact, Hyundai has improved in all categories and resale value continues to improve as well. 2006 was also the year that the Hyundai Entourage was chosen as the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety â€œGold Top Safety Pickâ€. This distinction makes the Hyundai Entourage the safest minivan ever tested. The same year Hyundai was also awarded â€˜Top-rated 2006 Ideal Vehicleâ€™ by AutoPacific.
Hyundai continues to invest heavily in long-term research and quality continues to improve. It has set its sights on toppling Toyota from its long held top spot in the United States Market. If things continue as they have been, this goal might actually be in sight.