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The Hyundai Motor Company Founding Chairman

Hyundai's Founding Chairman
Chung Ju-Yung - 1915 - 2001

Chung Ju-Yung was born in North Korea in 1915 as the eldest son of a poor peasant farming family. At the age of 18, he set off for good to Seoul with hopes of finding a better life.

Success was not immediate. He worked in various jobs, such as railway construction, bookkeeping and dock work. Mr. Chung's first experience as an entrepreneur came in 1938 when he started his own rice store. However, he was forced to close his business a year later because of the policies of the Japanese occupation forces.

After the liberation of Korea in World War II, Mr. Chung went into business repairing trucks for U.S. Armed Forces. He then went into the engineering and construction business, eventually building multibillion-dollar mega-projects around the world.

His venture into the shipbuilding business is legendary. Despite a lack of experience in shipbuilding, he persuaded a customer to give him an order to build a ship for tens of millions of dollars. Now the company that he started is the largest shipbuilder in the world.

By sheer force of effort and creativity, Mr. Chung built businesses that helped make Korea the economic powerhouse that it is today. From humble beginnings, he rose to great heights. But even at the peak of his success, he remained disciplined, lived simply and worked hard.

In his final years, he turned his efforts toward the reunification of Korea. This son of a farmer sought to open avenues of communication between the North and South Korean governments and between the people, north and south. In private talks with leaders, in cross-border business ventures and in grand gestures, such as driving 1000 cattle back to North Korea, he helped bring hope back to the most cherished goal of reuniting the Korean people. It may well be that this final act of kindness and concern, while acting as an ambassador of peace, may be viewed by history as Mr. Chung's greatest achievement.

Our Honorary Founding Chairman had many great philosophies that he lived by, but the one that we should all remember is: It is failures rather than successes that teach us invaluable lessons - It is not necessary to remember one's success. That should be remembered by others instead. Rather, we should remember our losses and failures - Those who forget their failures will fail again and again.

Hyundai - An Overview

Hyundai's cars and sport utility vehicles continue to provide customers a high level of content and performance at an affordable price. Every vehicle in the lineup demonstrates Hyundai's emergence as an auto manufacturer whose products compete successfully in technology, quality, styling and refinement with automobiles from around the world.

Hyundai sold its first car, the subcompact Excel model, in the U.S. in 1986. At the time, few Americans had ever heard of Hyundai or its products. Since that time, Hyundai has expanded and upgraded its product line in the U.S. and now accounts for more than two percent of the U.S. auto market.

Hyundai now markets a full line of vehicles from the subcompact Accent to the award-winning Santa Fe sport utility vehicle to the luxurious XG350 sedan. The vehicles were developed exclusively by Hyundai Motor Company and are fitted with engines and transmissions designed and engineered by Hyundai.

Hyundai Motor Company

Chung Ju-Yung founded the Hyundai Motor Company in 1947 as Hyundai Engineering and Construction Co. Hyundai Motor Co. (HMC), established in 1967, is the auto sales leader in the Korean domestic market and exports vehicles to 190 countries worldwide.

Hyundai Motor Co. operates the world's largest integrated automobile manufacturing facility in Ulsan, located on Korea's southeast coast. In 1996, Hyundai opened the Namyang Technology Research Center, which includes a complete testing facility with a 2.8-mile oval test track and a new $40 million aeroacoustic wind tunnel. That same year, HMC began production at its state-of-the-art Asan Plant, located southeast of Seoul.

Hyundai now operates eight research centers in Korea along with four international centers, including Hyundai America Technical Center, Inc., in Ann Arbor, MI, and Hyundai California Design Center in Fountain Valley, CA. Hyundai's automotive technology centers employ approximately 4,100 researchers with an annual budget of five percent of current revenues. Current research projects include: electric-powered vehicles, low-emission gasoline engines, solar- powered vehicles, hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles and other alternative fuel vehicles.

The Hyundai California Design Center, established in 1990, creates and develops both production vehicles and cutting-edge design concepts for the automotive market. Several innovative vehicles have emerged from the design center including three concept roadsters, HCD-1, HCD-2, HCD-6, a hybrid sport utility vehicle, HCD-3, the CrossTour sport utility vehicle (HCD-5) and the HCD-7 luxury sedan. The influence of the California Design Center can be clearly seen in the sleek lines of the first generation Hyundai Tiburon sporty coupe and the Santa Fe sport utility vehicle.

A Look Back - Hyundai Enters the U.S. Market

The timing of Hyundai's entry into the U.S. market in 1986 was ideal. At that time, most automobile manufacturers had abandoned the entry-level market in favor of high-end, high-priced vehicles, leaving a large void in the market. First-time car buyers such as college students and young families were not able to find adequate, value-equipped cars that met their needs, yet were priced within their economic means.

In February 1986, Hyundai launched its subcompact Excel model in the U.S. market. Customer response was immediate; in just seven months Hyundai Motor America had sold its 100,000th Excel. Total 1986 sales numbered 168,882 - an industry record for an import car distributor in its first year. Hyundai sales averaged 1,431 units per dealer, another sales record. In 1987, Hyundai sales continued to soar, reaching a record of 263,610 units.

What makes this sales performance even more remarkable is that it was done with dealers located in only 31 of the 50 states. In the early years, Hyundai concentrated its sales efforts primarily on the West and East coasts, as well as in the southern states. In 1987, Hyundai expanded into the central portion of the United States, opening a central region office near Chicago. Today there are four regions and nearly 600 Hyundai dealerships nationwide.

Hyundai Motor America

As the presence of Hyundai automobiles and Hyundai Motor America continued to grow in America, the company  began to expand its operations and service networks nationwide to more effectively serve the needs of dealers and  customers. In 1988, HMA opened a $21 million, 300,000 square-foot parts distribution center in Ontario, CA, to  facilitate parts deliveries to Hyundai's expanding dealer body. The next year, HMA opened a $16.6 million, 342,000  square-foot office complex and parts distribution center in Aurora, IL. There is an additional parts distribution center in  Lawrenceville, GA and a Warranty Technical Center in Fountain Valley, CA.

Today, Hyundai also has regional offices in Jamesburg, N.J., Austell, GA, Aurora, IL and Coppell, TX. In addition, the New Jersey facility also incorporates a parts distribution center.

In 1990, Hyundai Motor America moved its national headquarters from Garden Grove, CA, to a new 18-acre site in nearby Fountain Valley, CA - an investment of $18 million. In addition to corporate offices, this facility also houses HMA's western regional office, Hyundai's California Design Center, the National Service Center and the National Headquarters of Hyundai Motor Finance Co.

Hyundai Motor Finance Co. (HMFC) launched in 1990 with a capital investment of $15 million and 22 employees. HMFC now employs nearly 200 people and has accumulated a portfolio of nearly $500 million. Hyundai Motor Finance Co. serves Hyundai dealers nationwide with individual customer financing and dealer inventory financing.