“Nothing is impossible if you break the mold.” This is the motto of Chung Ju-yung, founder of the Hyundai Group. Since the inception of the Hyundai brand, the company has consistently broken molds.
Hyundai has consistently defied the odds to become a worldwide household name, known for its commitment to further new technology.
In 1915, Chung Ju-yung was born in what is now part of North Korea. As the eldest of 7 children in a modest farming family, he was expected to take over the family business.
However, he had initiative from a young age and fled thrice to the city in hopes of finding opportunities to better his and his family’s lives. It was there that he realised his desire to pursue civil engineering.
Through hard work and resilience, he became the founder of a rice store at a young age of 22, which became largely successful under his direction. Unfortunately, when the rice trade became illegal in 1939, Chung began to look for other opportunities: something that would “not require large capital, but yield high returns.”
In 1941, Chung started an auto repair shop in Seoul, his first foray into the automotive industry.
The Birth Of Hyundai
In 1947, the Hyundai Engineering and Construction Company was founded. The name “Hyundai” means “modern times” in Korean, reflecting the brand’s forward-thinking mentality and dedication to innovation.
From his experience building roads as a government contractor in the Hyundai Engineering and Construction Company, he realised the importance of the automotive industry. He notably stated that if “roads are the country’s veins, cars are the blood running through them”.
Twenty years later, the Hyundai Motor Company was founded. In 1968, the Ulsan assembly plant completed its construction, and Hyundai assembled its first car at the plant: the Cortina.
This release was quite literally record-breaking: at just under 6 months, it was the quickest time between ground-breaking and full-scale operations for any Ford assembly plant in the world.
Hyundai launched its first car, the Pony, in 1975. This vehicle made history as South Korea’s first ever mass-produced car.
By the 1990s, Hyundai began venturing into electric and hybrid car production. In 1991, the company created its first electric-only car, the Sonata Electric Vehicle prototype.
As Hyundai expanded into the American market, they released the Santa Fe SUV in 2000. Named after the New Mexico city, the SUV became well-loved by the American market and was an instant best-seller.
Four years later, they followed up on the success of the Santa Fe with the Tucson, which won the Automobile Journalist Association of Canada award in the Best Crossover Vehicle category and won the Good Design Award in Japan on the year of its release.
Electrifying The Future
Throughout the 2010s, Hyundai has committed to exploring sustainable and environmentally friendly automotive technology. Dedicated to creating an era of pollution-free mobility and transport, the company has strived for improved fuel efficiency as well as novel energy solutions.
In 2013, Hyundai released the first commercially mass-produced hydrogen fuel cell vehicle: The ix35 Fuel Cell. Hyundai also ventured into the motorsports industry in the same year, with the Hyundai Motorsport World Rally Championship team.
2016 saw the release of the IONIQ, the first car with three powertrains: hybrid, plug-in hybrid and full electric.
Coming full circle, Hyundai unveiled their concept model “45” in 2019, making an homage to the Hyundai Pony Coupe concept as a glimpse into the future of electric and self-driving vehicles.
Today, Hyundai has come a long way from Chung’s humble beginnings. That said, the leading brand does not show any signs or desire of slowing down.
Hyundai pledges to continuously evolve and change the state of the sustainability of the automotive industry, for good. For Hyundai, “better” is never enough. In fact, the brand’s “Progress” campaign aimed at celebrating the brand’s 50-year journey has an apt tagline: Next Awaits.
The brand has three zero-emissions vehicles already under its belt, including the likes of the next-generation fuel-cell electric vehicle: the Nexo.
Moving forward, Hyundai hopes to continue spearheading the industry’s efforts to create ever-evolving solutions for an ever-evolving world.
Hyundai’s quality vehicles and stellar brand vision are available in Singapore at RTMT Motor. To find out more about them, visit their Facebook at RTMT Motor or book an appointment on their online form.
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