HYUNDAI MOTOR COMPANY
We are disappointed when what we did is undervalued. But that’s the time we feel the need to do something. —Mong-Koo Chung, Chairman and CEO of Hyundai Motor Company
Hyundai Motor Company (HMC), the largest automobile company in Korea, went through some tumultuous events since it entered the U.S. auto market in 1986. After a promising beginning, a “Hyundai Car” became a synonym for a cheap car, suitable only for the lower class or a cheapskate. The following article illustrates how miserable Hyundai’s U.S. history was: Back in 1998, the wheels were coming off at Hyundai. Leno and Letterman regularly made the shoddy Korean car a punch line — to jokes about Yugo. The home office in Seoul couldn’t even recruit a seasoned American to jump-start the faltering company. As a last resort, the Korean bosses turned to their corporate lawyer, Finbarr O’Neill, an affable Irishman with no experience running a car company. “We were a company looking over the precipice,” says O’Neill. “I kept my law license intact as my insurance policy.”1 A few years ago, however, a variety of auto mass media began to publicize Hyundai’s high test scores for content and performance. People working with Hyundai, as well as customers and industry analysts were amazed to see the recent rapid improvement of Hyundai cars in quality ratings and sales. For example, John Wagner, a Hyundai dealer in San Jose, was proud of but surprised at a news release by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). It stated that the Hyundai 2001 Santa Fe sport utility vehicle earned the highest rating in the 40-mph frontal offset crash tests conducted at the IIHS facilities. He pointed to an Auto World article, which compared the Santa Fe with the Ford Escape, the top selling model in the SUV segment, saying, “So if you’re doing serious cross-shopping, our advice is to escape the compact-SUV crowd in a Santa Fe.” The highest rating of “5-stars” by the... [continues]
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