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Land Rover
14 Oct 11 01:24
HYUNDAI Motors - Korea Media Trip
John K. Lindgren
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HYUNDAI "New Thinking New Possibilities"

In 2001 Would I Have Bought a Korean, South Korean Car Here In Bangkok?
No. I don't think so.

HYUNDAI Motor Company was founded 1967 and ranks today as the 5th largest car maker in the world. And it all started in May '76 when the first Hyundai passenger car arrived named Pony. Some called it the “Pony Express”. Flash forward to the 21st century. Hyundai today designs, builds and exports millions of high quality, passenger vehicles, SUVs, trucks and buses. Headquartered in Seoul, South Korea, Hyundai operates the world's largest integrated state-of-the-art automobile plant in Ulsan.

The company employs about 75,000 staff around the world. Hyundai vehicles are sold in 193 countries through some 6,000 dealerships and showrooms globally. In 2010, Hyundai sold over 1.7 million vehicles worldwide built at seven global Hyundai plants in Korea, USA, India, China, Turkey, Czech republic and Russia.
Recently while driving around in down-town and suburban Bangkok and I saw a dozen H1 Hyundai 7-seater luxury vans painted in silver, black, and white. This de-luxe Hyundai people carrier is a success story.

Recently, HYUNDAI Motor (Thailand)Co.,Ltd. invited a group of selected Thai motoring media to Korea, "Journey to the World of Hyundai 2011 Tour"

The Republic of Korea, or South Korea is a hot destination these days. It's the amazing “K” factor. From teenage K-pop, to Korean dubbed to Thai soap operas and game shows. Korea is just a five hour flight from the Kingdom of Thailand. Our night flight arrives early at Seoul airport. “Fast lane” past the immigration to our extra long sleek, midnight blue Hyundai our comfy VIP buses.

Off we go. Everywhere, at the parking, on the busy expressways, on the bridges only Korean made cars; Hyundai's, KIA's, SsangYong's, Daewoo's. Sedans, coupes, MPVs, pickups, lorries and police cars. I do not see any Japanese cars. Not one single unit! During the whole first day I only see six “foreign” imported” cars; some US made German BMW's, a Land Rover an old Volvo and a new Jaguar. Apart from that totally Made in Korea vehicle monopoly.

This is the new the Korea completely rebuilt after the Korean War. In 1953, South Korea was rated by the U.N. as the poorest country in the world. Gone is the grey image of the past. In 2011 South Korea is an industrial giant. And the sleepy, Seoul is today one of Asia's most dynamic cities. With skyscrapers owned by SAMSUNG, LG, HYUNDAI, LOTTE, HANJIN. The global, mega companies called l chaebold.

Seoul, the capital was built on the banks on the Han river in the mid 1700s. It took the name Seoul “capital city” after the second world war. A dozen bridges and seven subterranean subway lines cross the river.

We 're on whistle stop tour. “The Hyundai bus is waiting!
“Hurry up”. Onwards to some intense shopping. Where else than globally known Myeng-dong market. This is Copenhagen's, Ströget, London's Kings Road, S'pore Orchard Road and bit of Bangkok MBK, Siam Square and K-Village. Highly concentrated retail therapy. “Etude” “Skin-Food” boutiques where a third of our group, the ladies go ga-ga. Five minutes in “Skin-Food” shop packed to the rafters - and I am done. I escape to Krispy-Cream with my new iPad2. Free hot-spot. No password needed. This is ultra-high speed internet territory. This is my first “KC” experience. Dark chocolate muffin & cappuccino. Yummy!
Our dinner venue is nearby on the crowded Myang-dong main street. The Todai Buffet or “Mother of All Seafood Buffets” an international all you care to eat sea-food and buffet restaurant. I could not resist the seafood dynamite and the tofu cheese cake. And free flow espresso. “The bus is waiting” “Hurry up” Across Han river again. Check in at the five star Marriott Times Square. Lights out.

Day two: Breakfast at 07:00. Dep: 08:00. Across the river. Highways, rain and slow traffic. We reach the Hyundai R & D. This is where automotive dreams come true. Or the Hyundai adage ”New Thinking New Possibilities ” - Namyang Research & Development Center in Gyeonggi two hours from Seoul.
A winding road takes us to the gate. Security, NO CAMERAS, Please! The Namyang Center is an impressive industrial automotive village with types of Hyundai cars parked everywhere.

Apart from the Namyang Center there are Hyundai R & D centers located in Germany, Japan and India. Additionally, there is an American design center in California that develops designs for US markets. This is world-class R & D with planning, design, and power train centers as well as a wind tunnel facility, crash, and driving test areas. More than 8,000 top automotive researchers work around the clock to develop, design the best Hyundai sedans, coupes, luxury limousines and commercial vehicles.

We pay a short visit to the wind tunnel facility where the test facility pits cars against 200 km winds created by ultra-large propellers measuring 8.4m. The multi million USD facility is the largest of its kind in Asia.
Vehicles are put through a wide range of punishing tests that recreate diverse environmental conditions such as extreme temperatures, and heavy rains and snow to ensure that they are able to deliver optimal levels of safety and durability under any circumstance, anywhere on the planet. The wind tunnel test evaluates the aerodynamics and aero acoustics of a vehicle. Tests are conducted to reduce wind resistance for improved fuel economy and reduced wind noise which is a major cause of noise when driving at high speeds. The sound-absorbing wall of the facility minimizes reflective noise and enables accurate measurements of noises created by the vehicle

And in the middle of the Namyang R & D center is the five kilometer oval proving ground. Like a in-house racing track, an Indianapolis 500 in middle of the complex. We make two laps with our long coaches at 50 km/h. And right comes camouflaged Sonata at high speed and followed by a the long luxury Equus, and an Elantra in hot pursuit. A couple of H1's joining the race. This is a busy testing ground.

Closer to the estuary, the sea is the secret to Hyundai's global success. These guys have their own steel factory. The Hyundai Steel Factory in Incheon. Established in 1953, Hyundai Steel is the oldest and one of the most advanced cold rolling mills in Korea and the gigantic in-house steel mill to supply steel sheets for the production of Hyundai-Kia automobiles.

The only car company in the world with own it's own steel manufacturing. From iron ore to high tensile cool sheet metal. The key to build new new Hyundai cars.Huyundai has come a long way since the dinky “Pony Express” in 1967.

Would I buy a HYUNDAI today Anno Domini 2011?

You bet I would. I'd purchase the Hyundai SONATA Sport. Hands down that's the Korean car I'd buy.

Or the new HYUNDAI 2012 VELOSTER three-door coupe.
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