Progress does not happen by chance, it is shaped by history.

At the beginning, there was a man with the determination to give his country and his children a new perspective. That’s why Chung Ju-yung founded Hyundai, and that’s what shapes us to this day.

One man driven by a desire for better.

Throughout his life, the Hyundai's founder has been successful in many areas. Find out more about his extraordinary story below.

Chung Ju-yung.

The founder of Hyundai, was born in the village of Asan, located about 30 miles north of the current demilitarized zone (DMZ) in what is now North Korea.

As the oldest child of farmers he was expected to take over the family with 6 younger siblings. However, he decided to look for opportunities. He therefore fled his home three times – the last time in 1931 at the age of 18 – hoping to be able to provide a better life than his family. The first time, at the age of 16, he and a friend reached the town of Kowon and took up jobs as construction workers, Chung realised his passion for civil engineering. It went well for two months until his father learned of Chung’s whereabouts and took him back. The second time Chung and his friend were betrayed by a stranger who promised them jobs, but took all of their money instead.

Cow eating green leaves.

1933.

After a year of helping his father on the farm, Chung tried to leave home in pursuit of a better life for his family. 

He managed to get a train ticket to the capital by selling one of his father’s cows. After he had arrived in Seoul, Chung hoped to start a career as an accountant and therefore went to a local bookkeeping school. He read a lot about a certain Abraham Lincoln who had managed to make a name for himself despite coming from a rather poor background. Two months later he was found by his father who took him back to his hometown, again.

Back in the country, however, the father realised his son’s relentless desire to see the world – and eventually let him go. From 1935 on, Chung persevered in various fields, from working as a dock worker, carrying stones to delivering rice- which required him to learn how to ride a bike. Thanks to his passionate dedication and his unwavering vision, Chung became the owner of the shop within two years. But then another challenge came up: rice trade was forbidden in Korea.

Hyundai founder Chung Ju-yung.

The 1940's.

With the rice trade forbidden, Chung soon began a search for “something else to do that did not require large capital, but would yield high returns”.

In 1941, he started a car repair shop in Seoul, his first contact with the automotive world. Even in the early 1940s, Chung’s company was just like Hyundai today: quick and efficient. He later said with pride, “we repaired in only five days what took other companies twenty”. 

Within three years, the number of employees rose from 20 to 70, which is why the government decided to merge Chung’s business with a steel mill to support war efforts. In 1947 he started his fifth job as founder of the Hyundai Group by entering the building trade. As government contractor his company “Hyundai Engineering & Construction“ was part of the country’s rejuvenation – which of course included building roads. Chung quickly realized that if “roads are the country’s veins, cars are the blood running through them”. Chung, a farmer’s son who was never afraid of facing obstacles and starting over and over again, played an important role in rebuilding Korea and making his original vision a reality: “If someone asked me what is the motivating force for Hyundai – a desire for better.” And what about the cow? Shortly before his passing, founder Chung repaid his debt by gifting his country 1001 cows in a symbolic gesture: a tribute to his beloved father who made all of this possible.

1967 - 1990

The era of car manufacturing begins.

“Hyundai Engineering & Construction“ was part of the Korea's rejuvenation in the post war era – which of course included building roads. Chung quickly realised that if “roads are the country’s veins, cars are the blood running through them”. The next step in the journey was the founding of the Hyundai Motor Company in 1967.
  1. Hyundai assembly plant in Ulsan today.

    1967.

    In 1967, Hyundai Motor Company was founded. The Ulsan assembly plant was completed in 1968. Today, it is the world’s largest integrated automobile manufacturing facility, with an annual production capacity of 1.6 million units. With the Hyundai Glovis global vessel fleet and its own steel-making affiliate, Hyundai controls the whole value chain.

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  1. The Cortina was the first car assembled the Hyundai Ulsan plant, in cooperation with Ford.

    1968.

    In 1968, the Cortina was the very first vehicle successfully assembled by Hyundai at its Ulsan plant, in cooperation with Ford Motor Company. Hyundai set a record for the quickest time between ground-breaking and full-scale operations for any Ford assembly plant around the world – just under six months.
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Pony

Pony Era.

Angular, sleek, iconic – the Hyundai Pony Coupe is as timeless today as it was when it was first unveiled in 1975. 46 years on, we’ve taken a first-generation Pony 4-door sedan apart and put it back together with all new technology, fittings and furnishings. Come on board the next generation Heritage Series PONY with us.

Rapid expansion & the first electric cars and hybrids.

The 1980s was a time of rapid expansion for Hyundai as the company became an international player and started competing with traditional automakers. The 1990s saw Hyundai experiment with a number of electric and hybrid vehicles.

  1. the Pony Excel became the first Hyundai model sold in the United States

    1980's.

    In a period of rapid expansion, the first-generation Hyundai Sonata was introduced in 1985 and in 1986, the Pony Excel became the first Hyundai model sold in the United States.

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  1. Hyundai’s first pure electric car was the Sonata Electric Vehicle prototype in 1991

    The 90's.

    The company’s first pure electric car was the Sonata EV prototype in 91. The hybrid-electric FGV-1 was unveiled at the 95 Seoul Motor Show. This car featured full-time electric drive technology. Flexible-fuel vehicles were being developed in 98, while the company’s fuel cell electric vehicle activities were also started in the late 90s.

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  1. 1994.

    Hyundai continued to evolve and consolidate its position as a leading international manufacturer of cars. In 1994, the company began operating a newly-established R&D centre in Germany. This is responsible for monitoring technology developments in Europe, as well as designing and engineering new cars for the European market. In September 1997, Hyundai opened its first manufacturing plant on the continent in Izmit, Turkey. It is Hyundai’s longest-running overseas production facility.
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2000-2009

The transformation into a world-class brand.

By the turn of the millennium, Hyundai had begun to overhaul its image in order to establish itself as a world-class brand, investing heavily in the quality, design and manufacturing. The first SUV, the SANTA FE, was launched in 2000 and its success led to the introduction of the TUCSON in 2004.
  1. Hyundai launched its first SUV, the SANTA FE, in 2000

    2000.

    Our first SUV, the SANTA FE, launched in 2000. Named after the city in New Mexico, it was a hit with American buyers and quickly became our best-selling vehicle.

  2. Hyundai launched its first modern and compact SUV, the TUCSON in 2004

    2004.

    Launched in 2004, the compact TUCSON SUV won the Automobile Journalist Association of Canada award for the Best Crossover and the Good Design Award in Japan that year.

  3. the Hyundai i30 was developed to meet the specific demands and expectations of European consumers

    2007.

    Launch of the i30, the first ‘i’ model, developed to meet the specific demands of European consumers and provide a real challenge to the mainstream brands in the segment.

    2010-2021

    2010 to today: pioneers in future mobility. 

    In this phase, we increasingly turned our attention towards environmentally-friendly vehicles and technology. In 2021, we announced that Hyundai is in progress to achieve carbon neutrality by 2045 by neutralising CO2 emissions at all stages of production and operation. From 2035, all new Hyundai vehicles sold in Europe will be either battery-electric or fuel cell electric vehicles.
    1. Hyundai launched ix35 Fuel Cell in 2014, the first commercially mass-produced hydrogen fuel cell vehicle

      2013.

      Launched in 2013, ix35 Fuel Cell is the first commercially mass-produced hydrogen fuel cell vehicle in the world. Its quick refuelling time and long driving range, combined with its environmental conservation, provide greater benefits for all. The Hyundai Motorsport World Rally Championship team was also founded in 2013.

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    1. In 2016, Hyundai introduced the IONIQ, the world’s first car to offer three electrified powertrains – hybrid, plug-in hybrid and full electric

      2016.

      In 2016, Hyundai introduced the IONIQ, the world’s first car to offer three electrified powertrains – hybrid, plug-in hybrid and full electric. Its name derives from the words ‘ion’ and ‘unique’.
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    1. a Hyundai i30 N throwing up dust in a turn

      2017.

      The i30 N marked the premiere of the Hyundai N high performance range. Built on the New Generation i30, the i30 N was developed from the ground up to deliver maximum driving pleasure in everyday life on the road, as well as on the track. Born in Namyang and honed at the Nürburgring, N cars are designed to perform – and to put a grin on your face.

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    1. Hyundai NEXO FCEV driving on the highway

      2018.

      Versatile and very fun to drive, the all-new KONA Electric is the first electric compact SUV in Europe. This ground-breaking newcomer combines impressive electric driving range with bold and roomy SUV style – for no compromises.

    2. Hyundai NEXO FCEV driving on the highway

      2018.

      The NEXO not only embodies Hyundai’s commitment to advanced eco-friendly vehicle development – it also reinforces the company’s leadership in Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEV). The NEXO sets a world record for the longest drive by a fuel cell electric vehicle, reaching over 600 km on a single charge.

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    1. Hyundai 45 concept car at the Frankfurt motorshow

      2019.

      Simply named 45, our new electric design concept, unveiled at the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show, pays homage to one of the most iconic vehicles in Hyundai’s history: the Pony Coupe Concept. 45 foreshadows a new era of Hyundai’s automotive design focused on electrification, autonomous technologies and intelligent design.

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    1. The Hyundai electric range from 2020, KONA Electric, SANTA FE and TUCSON Hybrid.

      2020.

      2020 was a record year in terms of new launches and enhancements. Seven distinct models were launched or renewed – or 20, counting all variations. The launch of the all-new TUCSON completed the electrification of the SUV fleet. Now, SANTA FE and TUCSON are available in hybrid and plug-in hybrid. KONA already has a hybrid and all-electric variant.

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    The Hyundai IONIQ 5 electric midsize CUV parked in nature.

    2021.

    IONIQ 5 is the first model built on our dedicated architecture for battery electric vehicles (E-GMP) is also first in the new IONIQ line-up brand.

    The all-electric Hyundai IONIQ 6 a four-door streamliner sedan seen from the side.

    2022.

    Expanding the all-electric IONIQ line-up, the IONIQ 6 was launched, a four-door streamliner sedan with its design roots in the Prophecy Concept EV.

    Some make announcements. We build.

    While some car brands just announce sustainable cars, we already have numerous zero tailpipe emissions cars on the road. Like our next-generation hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle: NEXO and Europe’s first fully-electric sub-compact SUV: the KONA Electric. And in 2021, we launched IONIQ 5: the first vehicle based on E-GMP, our dedicated platform for electric vehicles – followed by the IONIQ 6 four-door sedan in 2022.