According to a logistical report conducted by Statista in 2021, the world's three biggest automakers included Toyota with 8.5% market share, Volkswagen narrowly behind at 7.8%, and most surprising of all, Hyundai cornering 5.4% of the world's market. You may be asking yourself now, "Hyundai? Do I even know anyone that drives a Hyundai?" Nonetheless, the fact remains that Hyundai, a company once hampered by longstanding rumors alluding to build quality, or lack thereof, is now one of the leading car builders in the world.

Also, it's far from an overnight turnaround. Hyundai has over time been committed to bolstering its image from producing boring, economy cars, to taking on the production of luxury and sports cars alike. Since the company's redistribution following the 1997 Asian financial collapse, Hyundai has become a global force in the automotive industry, thanks to its 5,000 dealerships across 193 countries.

In addition to a handful of worldwide production facilities, Hyundai has gone from the bottom of the barrel, to taking on the world's leading manufacturers in its relatively brief 54-year history.

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History Of Hyundai: Origin And Its Humble Beginning

Hyundai-Evolution
via: Flickr 

Having originally founded the Hyundai Engineering and Construction Company in 1947, South Korean entrepreneur, Chung Ju-yung, later formed the Hyundai Motor Company in 1967.

In conjunction with Ford, Hyundai would release its first model, the legendary MK2 Cortina, in 1968. After witnessing the success first hand, Hyundai decided it wanted to independently develop its car models. Hence, Hyundai hired British automotive legend, Sir George Turnbull (former director of Austin Morris, British Leyland), along with fiver other British engineers, culminating in the release of the Hyundai Pony in 1975.

Positioned squarely alongside brands like the Lada and Škoda, the Pony would begin to cement itself as a budget offering, thus signifying the first foray into the economy car segment. This segment would later be embraced by the majority of Korean carmakers. Also, this decision would help Hyundai achieve the production of a million cars by 1985, just ten years after the introduction of the Pony. Dubbed the 10th best product in America by Fortune Magazine, the company would use this success as a springboard to begin the development and implementation of its technology, starting in 1988. By 1991, Hyundai would develop its first engine and transmission, setting the wheels in motion for a complete independence from there onward.

Hyundai's Reinvention For Relevance

HYUNDAI Coupe Tiburon
via: Hyundai

Growing pains would soon remove the rose-colored glasses for Hyundai's independence, as growing complaints regarding build quality and dealership support would fuel a dent in public opinion for decades.

However, 1998 marked a major change in the Hyundai philosophy and ethos when Chung Mong-koo, son of founder Chung Ju-yung, would be given the keys to the castle. Mong-koo would set out to reestablish Hyundai as a world-class brand through major investments from parent company, Hyundai Motor Group.

Over the next several years, Hyundai would focus on quality, design, manufacturing, and long-term research of its vehicles. Implementing measures like a standard, 10-year/10,000-mile warranty on their U.S. sold cars. Also, Hyundai would begin aggressively marketing their $25 million, six-week campaign "Hyundai Advantage." Coinciding with the release of the 1999 Tiburon, Hyundai would boldly claim it was in possession of "America's best warranty," in an attempt to dispel the notion that Hyundai's were not only a financial risk, but a social risk, too.

Efforts and investment began to pay off quite quickly, when in 2004, J.D. Power and Associates ranked Hyundai second in "initial quality."

Related: Here's Why The Hyundai Genesis Coupe Is An Extremely Underrated Sports Car Gem

Hyundai Manufacturing: A Global Connection

Hyundai Production Line
via: Hyundai

In order to become one of the leading manufacturers in the world, Hyundai understood that its reach needed to be boundless. As a result, the company now boasts 12 manufacturing plants in over 10 countries. While still small potatoes when compared to Volkswagen's 136 facilities, Hyundai has managed to cement itself as one of the largest producers of automobiles, due in large part to its Ulsan Factory.

Dubbed the world's single largest automobile plant, the Hyundai complex in Ulsan, South Korea sits on over 1,200 acres of land. It consists of five independent plants, while Hyundai employs over 34,000 domestic workers that are capable of producing 5,600 vehicles per day; equating to 38% of South Korea's vehicles. Seen as the birthplace of the South Korean automotive industry, the complex also features a fire station, hospital, and security vehicles.​​​​​​

Hyundai: Committed To A Future Of Interesting Cars

Future of Hyundai
Via: Hyundai

Since 2014, Hyundai has stated that "the company intends to become a technical leader in ride and handling, producing vehicles that lead their respective segments for driver engagement." It's first move to support this? Poaching Albert Biermann, former VP of Engineering for BMW M, to be the director of chassis development for Hyundai's new performance marque, "Hyundai N."

How else do you prove your commitment to driver engagement? Build a rally car, of course. Coinciding with the development of the N line, Hyundai would introduce its i20 WRC variant, marking the first time Hyundai would compete in WRC in ten years. With instant success, Hyundai would begin to define itself as a serious WRC competitor, sealing their fate in 2019 by claiming the Manufacturer's Title.

Related: Hyundai N Draws Up Palisade, Nexo, Prophecy Concepts

Through their blend of car enthusiast and sustainability initiatives, Hyundai has dispelled the long-standing rumors of ineptitude as a marque. As a result of the success of the N-line, in addition to EV subsidiary, IONIQ, Hyundai would see an increase in profits of an astounding, 187% from the year prior, recording $1.16 billion, worldwide.

Now seen as the last bastion of enthusiast derived cars, Hyundai's future is a silver lining for gear heads everywhere.

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