It’s a pretty impressive performance. From your first car in 1967 – a chopped about Ford Cortina – to the world’s fifth largest car maker in just 40 years.
And to us Brits, it’s ironic that the company’s first home-grown model – the angular 1975 Pony hatchback – was built under the guidance of ex-British Leyland boss George Turnbill, and had more than a little Morris Marina in its DNA.
Despite that unpromising start, Hyundai-Kia (in 1998, it absorbed Kia after the break-neck expansion of the South Korean economy triggered a financial meltdown) is now a product development powerhouse, taking advantage of Korea’s enviable home-grown automotive engineering talent. Indeed, Korean-based General Motors-DAT is now responsible for engineering the next-generation Vauxhall Corsa family.
Hyundai-Kia has also moved rapidly to shift production to local markets and now has facilities in eastern Europe, China, India and the US. Mass-producing cars in the local currency zone is something other carmakers – including VW which is searching for a new US factory site – are only now seriously latching on to as the only way to secure profits in the face of global currency fluctuations.