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Hyundai Motor marks 50th anniversary

Posted January. 01, 2018 07:28,   

Updated January. 01, 2018 08:04


It was an unusually muted 50th anniversary for Korea’s No. 1 automaker and one of the top global car brands. Without any events to mark the anniversary, not even the typical publication of compilations or a congratulatory message from its Chairman Chung Mong-koo, only employees took a day off as per the collective agreement while Hyundai Motor Group decided to go low-key unlike other times.

Hyundai Motor Company started in 1940 as a small business called “Art Service,” which the group’s founder Chung Ju-yung acquired at 3,500 won back then. Art Service, which was no better than a local repair shop, changed its name into Hyundai Motor Inc. on Dec. 29, 1967. Former CEO Park Byeong-jae, who was in charge of an “X car” later to be exported to the United States in 1986 with the name of Excel, visited Japan’s Mitsubishi Motors Corporation 50 times a year to learn its practices. Taking a photograph was prohibited, so he had to rely on his memory to model his company after Japan’s leading carmaker. The Korean company grew to beat Ford, which had transferred technology to Hyundai in its early stage, and become the 5th producer in the global market in 2010, a year of the 10th anniversary of Chairman Chung Mong-koo in his office.

Hyundai Motor Group posted a record high earning of over 8 trillion won in 2012, but its sales nosedived in 2017 by more than 30 percent year on year mainly due to China’s economic retaliations over Korea’s deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile system. Furthermore, the automaker failed to reach an agreement concerning wage issues with the labor union before the year-end for the first time in its history. Also challenging for the carmaker is the rise of green cars including electric vehicles and autonomous cars in the car industry.

The total sales of Hyundai Motor Group and its 31 affiliates were 257 trillion won in 2016, and around 140,000 are known to be employed by the group in Korea alone. Accounting for 12 percent of domestic manufacturing production (around 190 trillion won), an automobile industry employs as many as 350,000 people including those working in the forward and backward industries. The future of hundreds of thousands of workers and their families lies in the future of Hyundai. In the past, Hyundai used to pursue success with a slogan that says “Hyundai just does it” (a pun using the name “Hyundai” sounds similar with a Korean word for “do,” “handa”). However, now the paradigm of the industry has changed so drastically that the company’s earlier approach would be no longer sufficient. It is hoped that Hyundai had time on its silent 50th anniversary to ponder on how to add alpha to its strategy to remain competitive in the global market.