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Hyundai Motor’s Early History


Hyundai Motor Company’s official history begins in 1967 when it entered the automobile manufacturing industry. In the mid to late 1970s, it entered into a technical partnership with Mercedes-Benz [14] and entered the automobile repair business by establishing Hyundai Motor Service in 1974.

Afterwards, it started its own development for the production of its own model, recruited George Turnbull, who was the vice president of British Railland, the largest automobile company in the UK. started building the factory. In the same year, it was listed on the Korea Stock Exchange.

After the completion of the Ulsan plant in 1975, it began production of its own model, the Pony, which declared independence of the Korean automobile industry in January 1976, and emerged as the largest automobile company in Korea with the Sonata as a starting point, and became the second largest automobile company in Asia. As a result, it became an independent car model producer.

In 1977, the then US ambassador to Korea, Richard Snyder, met with Chairman Chung Ju-young and said, “If Hyundai gives up on its own development of automobiles, we will do everything in our power to support Hyundai so that Ford or General Motors can assemble and produce under the conditions they want. We will help Hyundai in construction in the Middle East.” In response, Jung Ju-young refused, saying, “A car is like a running flag, and even if you spend all your money in your life and fail, if you lay a stepping stone for the success of the automobile industry in future generations, you will have no regrets.” because they thought it would be a threat to In the end, Jung Ju-young ignored all pressure and pushed for independent development.

However, independent development was like gambling for luck even for Hyundai. Her younger brother Jung In-young told Jung Ju-yeong to develop independently, which required 20 to 30 times of his own capital, and even if he could get money, he would have to sell at least 50,000 units. However, in 1973, the total sales of automobiles in Korea was only over 18,000 units, including passenger cars, buses and trucks, and Hyundai sold only 4,000 of them. He said that he objected, saying that the reality is that they can only sell this much in the domestic market. However, after development and before launch, Pony became a huge international hit to the extent that 228 companies in 62 countries wanted to import Pony, and Jeong In-young’s worries were fortunately ended as mere worry.

Starting with exporting 6 Ponys to Ecuador in 1976, domestic cars were introduced to overseas markets. In 1983, we established a local subsidiary in Canada and started to build an overseas sales network. In 1985, we merged with Hyomun Industries, a car seat manufacturer, and exported Pony Excel to North America in 1986 to enter the North American market. A factory was established, but the factory was closed in 1993 due to successive sluggishness, and a Jeonju factory in Jeonbuk in 1995 and a factory in Asan in Chungnam in 1996 were established.

In fact, during this period, Hyundai Motor Company’s life and death depended on it. In the 1960s, Joo-Young Chung had plans to develop an automobile engine inside Hyundai Motor Company. However, at that time, the expertise of engineers in Korea was low compared to other countries, and it is said that the government put pressure on them to choose between Hyundai Heavy Industries and Hyundai Motors. However, Jung Ju-young decided that heavy industry could be developed by investing later, so he chose Hyundai Motors. And to start developing its own engine in earnest, he invited Dr. Hyun-soon Lee [17], who was working at GM overseas, to persuade him to participate in the research on engine development. At this time, Joo-Young Chung persuaded Dr. Hyun-Soon Lee that he would give all support to develop his own engine. In the end, when Dr. Lee accepted the proposal, Chairman Jung started to build a research institute, which is the Hyundai Motor Company Mabuk-ri Research Center. Of course, the probability of success was low, and the pressure from Mitsubishi was considerable because it was the time when people around the company ignored the fear that it would fail, and it was the time to buy and manufacture the engine blueprints from Mitsubishi.

However, thanks to Dr. Hyunsoon Lee’s persistent efforts, Hyundai Motor Company developed its own engine for the first time in Korea. The name of this engine in the project is Alpha Engine. After that, he designed and developed beta engine and gamma engine. However, the Gamma engine was only designed and the project was halted because the management of Hyundai Motor at the time signed a contract with Mitsubishi’s Sirius 2 engine. Afterwards, Dr. Hyunsoon Lee developed a theta engine with improved performance from the gamma engine, and this theta engine was immediately installed in the Kia Roche and NF Sonata. After that, Tau Engine was developed until 2008.

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