Share This Post
Hyundai’s History in CanadaPosted On December 14, 2015
When Did Hyundai Come to Canada?
Hyundai’s History in North America
The origins of the Hyundai Motor Company sits, rather expectedly, with its founder, Chung Ju-Yung. Born in 1915, Chung Ju-Yung was the eldest son of a poor peasant farming family located in what is now North Korea. His early life was understandably difficult. Chung Ju-Yung left his home when he was 18 years old and set his sights on Seoul, with the drive and a motivation to secure a better life.
Upon arriving in Seoul he found himself working long and difficult hours across a number of different trades that paid little. But he remained steadfast in his convictions and carried on. Well chronicled years later, Chung Ju-Yung spoke of working on a variety of projects that ranged from railway construction, dock work, to bookkeeping. He would see his first step towards a successful future in 1938 when he opened a rice store. While the store was forced to close due to circumstances beyond his control, his entrepreneurial spirit was ignited and over the next decade, he devoted himself to improving his connections, his business sense, and his visions. By 1947 Chung Ju-Yung had achieved something incredible: He opened the doors to the Hyundai Engineering and Construction Company.
What Hyundai Means
The word “Hyundai” 현대 means “modernity” and represents a giant leap forward for not just Chung Ju-Yung, but also for the worldwide reputation that would come to equate Korean manufacturing and design authority. Chung Ju-Yung, the visionary that started from near to nothing, would go on to build a multibillion-dollar company with presence across the globe.
Twenty years later, the Hyundai Motor Company was founded in 1967.
A Company Founded on the Future
The Hyundai brand is one that always looks to the future for inspiration and provides drivers with the modern experience they deserve. If you consider the fact that in less than fifty-years Hyundai has become one of the five largest auto manufacturers in the world, well, you can certainly appreciate how well-organized and ambitious the company has been since the very beginning. An energy they have not lost in the decades that followed.
The first vehicle produced by Hyundai was the Cortina, released in 1968 as a cooperative effort with the Ford Motor Company.
Recognizing the importance of working with specialists, Hyundai hired George Turnbull, a United Kingdom automobile executive who brought five British car engineers, including Kenneth Barnett, John Simpson, Edward Chapman, John Crosthwaite, and Peter Slater to streamline the process.
Taking two models of Marinas, a saloon and a coupé, the team developed the Hyundai Pony.
Released in 1975, this is recognized as the true beginning of the Korean car market, and along with styling from Giorgio Giugiaro of ItalDesign, the vehicle was offered in three-door hatchback, four-door fastback saloon, five-door estate and pick-up variations. With the success of the Pony, Turnbull was appointed vice-president and director of Hyundai Motor -Company. A position he held for only three years before moving on to other projects.
Entering the Canadian Market
It wasn’t until 1984 that Hyundai came to Canada and began their enthusiastic introduction to the North American market. Interestingly, Hyundai started with Canada over the United States because of complications with emission standards, and with sales that went over-and-beyond expectation, they cemented their place across the continent in the years to follow. There have been a number of occasions when Hyundai took the lead as the top-selling vehicle manufacturer in the Canadian sector.
Fact is, by 1985, only 10 years after the first Pony was sold in Korea, Hyundai recorded their 1 millionth production model.
The following year Hyundai entered the United States with their latest vehicle, the Excel, earning a “Best Product #10” by Fortune Magazine.
Up until 1988 select parts on Hyundai models were sourced from other manufacturers, but this was the year that all changed. Relying on their on their own technology, manufacturing plants, and designers, Hyundai introduced the Sonata to their global market, it was that same year they exceeded 4 million models on the road.
Three years later, Hyundai announced they had successfully developed their own gasoline engine – the four-cylinder Alpha, along with their own transmission, further fortifying their independence.
Hyundai’s research centres span the world, with locations in Korea, Germany, Japan, and India, alongside a design centre in California for US-specific model development.
A Canadian Presence
It was in the summer of 1989 that Hyundai Auto Canada Inc. began its operation by opening a stamping and assembly plant in Bromont, Quebec.
Initially costing 387.7 million dollars to construct, the local government subsidized 131 million dollars to encourage the development of the new industry.
Originally, the plant was constructed to produce an impressive 2000 Hyundai vehicles a week but due to a variety of complications along the way, it was closed after only four years of operation.
Despite the absence of this production plant, the Hyundai brand remains one of the most popular among Canadians across the country.