Thursday, December 16, 2010

2011 HYUNDAI SONATA NAMED AUTOMOBILE MAGAZINE "ALL STAR"

The all-new 2011 Hyundai Sonata has been named to Automobile Magazine's annual "All Stars" list as one of the most outstanding cars of the year.

"The critical acclaim and recognition from experts like the editors of Automobile Magazine is gratifying," said John Krafcik, President and CEO of Hyundai Motor America. "Sonata is a game-changing car that has surpassed everyone's expectations. The All Star award is recognition that the record number of customers who chose Sonata this year made a great choice."

Each fall, Automobile Magazine tests new model cars and its reigning All Stars before selecting 10 vehicles that stand out among all others in the market.

"The Sonata has emerged as an unquestioned leader in a segment that's bursting with excellent automobiles. Painstakingly conceptualized, designed and engineered by Hyundai, the Sonata meets and exceeds the varied needs and wishes of demanding American buyers," writes Automobile Magazine. The editors conclude, "The Sonata is a car that sells purely on its merits rather than on its warranty, and increasing numbers of savvy Americans are beating a path to Hyundai's door."

The 2011 Hyundai Sonata was introduced earlier this year. Sonata brings to the market a number of breakthroughs previously unheard of in the mid-size family sedan segment including standout design, a standard gasoline direct injected engine that delivers 35 miles per gallon on the highway, an optional 274-horsepower 4-cylinder turbo and a hybrid model that will go on sale in the U.S. in January.

Through the first 11 months of the year, Sonata sales are up 65 percent over last year on the strength of the new model, which, is manufactured at Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama. Sonata's breakthrough 2.4-liter gasoline direct injection (GDI) engine, 2.0-liter turbo GDI and 6-speed automatic transmission also are manufactured in the United States. Hyundai Motor America sold 500,000 new vehicles in the U.S. for the first time ever, this year. Sonata has been the most "shopped" midsize car in the market for six of the past seven months as measured by Compete, an automotive market analysis firm.

The complete story on the "Automobile All Stars" is available in the February 2011 issue of Automobile Magazine and at www.automobilemag.com. The February issue will be available on iPad on December 20 and on newsstands on January 4, 2011.

HYUNDAI MOTOR AMERICA Hyundai Motor America, headquartered in Fountain Valley, Calif., is a subsidiary of Hyundai Motor Co. of Korea. Hyundai vehicles are distributed throughout the United States by Hyundai Motor America and are sold and serviced through about 800 dealerships nationwide. All Hyundai vehicles sold in the U.S. are covered by the Hyundai Assurance program, which includes the 5-year/60,000-mile fully transferable new vehicle warranty, Hyundai’s 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty and 5-years of complimentary Roadside Assistance.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Leave a Facebook comment, enter to win 4 Tickets to Usher!

Usher Tickets

We're giving away 4 tickets to go see Usher in concert on December 18, 2010 at the XL Center in Hartford, CT. In order to enter, simply "Like" the Gary Rome Hyundai Facebook page, then check our FB page. Leave a comment on the Wall post titled "Leave a Facebook comment, enter to win 4 Tickets to Usher" to enter the giveaway. Done. Feel free to "Like" the post itself so your Facebook friends can see the giveaway, and remember to allow direct messages in your Facebook privacy settings.

To enter the Usher Tickets giveaway:

* "Like" the Gary Rome Hyundai Facebook page. Leave a comment on the Facebook Wall post titled "Leave a Facebook comment, enter to win 4 Tickets to Usher"
* You must be 18 years or older and a resident of the U.S.
* Limit 1 entry per person.
* The entry period ends at 3:00PM ET on Wednesday, December 15.
* At that time, we'll select 1 winner from the eligible commenters to receive 4 Tickets to Usher at the XL Center in Hartford, CT.
* Make sure your Facebook privacy settings allow for direct messages to receive notification in the event you win.
* Winner must be able to pick up tickets in person at the dealership in Holyoke, MA.
* Standard giveaway rules apply for everything else.




Thursday, November 18, 2010

2011 Hyundai Sonata and Genesis Sedan Awarded an Automotive Best Buy Award from Consumers Digest

Consumers Digest Magazine named both the 2011 Hyundai Sonata and 2011 Hyundai Genesis sedan a "Best Buy." The ratings are based on behind-the-wheel assessment, safety ratings, ownership costs, warranty, price, comfort, ergonomics, styling and amenities. The Sonata is a Best Buy in the Family Car category and the Genesis sedan is a Best Buy in the Luxury Car segment.

"Value, as we see it, is based on purchase price and ownership costs relative to quality, performance and subjective factors like comfort and design," said Randy Weber, publisher, Consumers Digest. "Few purchases are more important, or require more research, than buying a new vehicle. Our analyses ensure that consumers are as satisfied with their auto purchase years after making it as they were on the day they drove off the lot."

The Automotive Best Buy Awards reflect Consumers Digest's view of which 2011 vehicles offer exceptional value for the money. A panel of six automotive experts evaluates the vehicles from behind-the-wheel on an ongoing basis, both under real-world conditions in their own test-drives and at manufacturers' new-model introductions. They assess design factors including styling, accessories and amenities, cargo space, and fit and finish, as well as performance characteristics including starting and acceleration, steering and handling, ride quality and fuel economy.

"The Genesis has provided ground-breaking value among its luxury competition with lavish appointments and impressive driving performance," said Mike O'Brien, vice president, Product and Corporate Planning, Hyundai Motor America. "The all-new Sonata also upholds Hyundai's legacy of value with exciting design, best-in-class fuel economy and outstanding residual value. Both cars continue to exceed expectations for consumers in their respective segments."

For more information and a complete list of award winners, visit http://www.consumersdigest.com/award_page.html.

HYUNDAI MOTOR AMERICA

Hyundai Motor America, headquartered in Fountain Valley, Calif., is a subsidiary of Hyundai Motor Co. of Korea. Hyundai vehicles are distributed throughout the United States by Hyundai Motor America and are sold and serviced through about 800 dealerships nationwide. All Hyundai vehicles sold in the U.S. are covered by the Hyundai Assurance program, which includes the 5-year/60,000-mile fully transferable new vehicle warranty, Hyundai's 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty and 5-years of complimentary Roadside Assistance.

Hyundai Elantra Earns Highest Residual Value in its Class in the 2011 ALG Residual Value Awards

ALG, the industry benchmark for residual values and depreciation data, today announced its 12th annual Residual Value Awards, honoring vehicles across 19 different segments and two brands that are predicted to retain the highest percentage of their MSRP after a three-year period. The 2011 Hyundai Elantra topped the competitive compact segment, winning ALG's award for the highest residual value in its class.

The 2011 Residual Value Awards are based on the entire model year forecast of 2011 products. Award winners are determined through careful study of the competition in each segment, historical vehicle performance and industry trends. Vehicle quality, production levels relative to demand and pricing and marketing strategies are among the key factors that affect ALG's residual value forecasts.

"Hyundai's win of the mid-compact segment highlights the growing reputation of the brand, as well as its impressive new product push," said Raj Sundaram, Senior Vice President, Solutions Group and ALG. "The all-new 2011 Elantra shines with standard luxurious features and a modest price tag, and it's expected to be a favorite of young drivers like the VW Jetta and Mazda3 before it."

The all-new 2011 Elantra encompasses Hyundai's latest ambitions including "Fluidic Sculpture" design, advanced safety technologies and best-in-class 40 mpg highway fuel economy. It took 33 months to develop the all-new Elantra and four years to bring it to market. The 2011 Elantra launches with new 1.8-liter "Nu" engine and in-house six-speed automatic transmission.

"Achieving such tremendous value retention speaks to the overall quality and merit of the Elantra," said Mike O'Brien, vice president, Product and Corporate Planning, Hyundai Motor America. "Vehicles that retain their value in the long-term offer a lower overall cost of ownership to the customer, allowing Hyundai to offer strong lease options to consumers and better resale value at trade-in time for our customers who purchase their vehicles."

For more information and a complete list of winners, visit: www.alg.com.

ALG

Based in Santa Barbara, California, ALG (www.alg.com) is a leading provider of data and consulting services to the automotive industry. ALG publishes the "Automotive Lease Guide" - the standard for Residual Value projections in North America, and has been forecasting automotive residual values for over 45 years in both the U.S. and Canadian markets. ALG is a company of DealerTrack Holdings, Inc. HYUNDAI MOTOR AMERICA

Hyundai Motor America, headquartered in Fountain Valley, Calif., is a subsidiary of Hyundai Motor Co. of Korea. Hyundai vehicles are distributed throughout the United States by Hyundai Motor America and are sold and serviced through about 800 dealerships nationwide. All Hyundai vehicles sold in the U.S. are covered by the Hyundai Assurance program, which includes the 5-year/60,000-mile fully transferable new vehicle warranty, Hyundai's 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty and 5-years of complimentary Roadside Assistance.

Monday, November 15, 2010

2011 Hyundai Elantra: First Look

* Competes with: Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Chevy Cruze, Ford Focus
* Looks like: An aggressive compact sedan
* Drivetrain: 148-hp, 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine; six-speed manual or automatic transmission
* Hits dealerships: 2011

Hyundai busted sales records with its revamped Sonata midsize sedan earlier this year, and it looks like it will do the same when the new Elantra goes on sale next year.

The just-announced Elantra will use the same formula as the Sonata, offering a high level of refinement, value and performance for a good price. However, this model has a not-so-secret weapon: 40 mpg standard.

While the Chevy Cruze and smaller Ford Fiesta promise 40 mpg highway or better, they do so only in special trims or with certain transmissions. The new Elantra gets an EPA-estimated 29/40 mpg city/highway and 33 mpg combined. That's the exact same mileage as the smaller Fiesta SFE.

Pricing hasn't been announced, but it looks like the base GLS model will come without air conditioning and a few other conveniences to deliver a low price. It still comes with power windows, a six-speaker stereo system and USB port.

The GLS Popular Equipment Package can be added. It includes air conditioning, cruise control, telescopic steering wheel and 16-inch steel wheels.

The Limited trim will come loaded with leather seating, automatic transmission, black chrome grille, fog lights, 17-inch alloy wheels, sunroof, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, heated front and rear seats, and Bluetooth connectivity.

A navigation system with 7-inch screen is available as an option on either trim level.

By David Thomas Cars.com

Monday, November 08, 2010

2011 Hyundai Equus test drive - Hyundai isn't horsing around

We can all learn a lesson from Hyundai. They don't sit around and wait for others to define their vehicles: They tell us who the competition is, and thus define their vehicles. Witness the latest new Hyundai: the 2011 Hyundai Equus. Hyundai tells us to compare it to the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, the BMW 7-Series and the Lexus LS. Hmm... we'll see. The 2011 Hyundai Equus will arrive in two different configurations, Equus Signature ($58,900) and Equus Ultimate ($65,400), each with a 5-year/60,000 mile basic warranty, a 10 year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty, and EPA fuel economy estimates of 16 MPG city/24 highway.

First Glance: Haven't we seen you somewhere before?

I have to get this out of the way first. I think that the name "Equus" is a terrible mistake. "Equus" is Latin for "horse," which is how we come to the English words "equestrian," "equine" and others. Fine so far. But "Equus" is also the title of Peter Shaffer's iconic 1973 play about a young man who blinded six horses with a spike after they witnessed his sexual failure in a barn. The play's Broadway production won a Tony Award in 1974. A 1977 film adaptation directed by Sidney Lumet featured Richard Burton. The play has been revived many times over the years, usually as a star turn. In 2007, Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter) played the troubled young man to much acclaim on London's West End. My point is that this is not some obscure little play. This is a major work, and it has a perverse, violent, psychosexual context that no car manufacturer would want to attach to their new vehicle. I know that the Equus name is revered in South Korea, as the previous version of this executive sedan was been a big success over there. But bringing a new vehicle to the US and ignoring the literary and cultural context of the name strikes me as insensitive. One big demerit before I even drive your vehicle, Hyundai.

Walking around the outside of the Equus, it's easy to see the designers' inspiration. There's some Mercedes-Benz in the front end (link goes to photo), some Maybach in the haunches, a little 7-series in the trunk lid. 19" wheels fill each fender well. The whole look is elegant, if a little generic. The Hyundai flying "H" logo only appears on the trunk, not on the hood, where a new Equus ornament faces the world.

In the Driver's Seat: Home, James

In South Korea, the Equus has been Hyundai's flagship executive car since its first generation in 1999. True Type A businessmen use drivers, so that their commute time can be work time. As such, the back seat of the Equus Ultimate is set up like an executive jet, with two cushy seats separated by a large center console. The right side seat is the power seat -- it even has a fold-out footrest. The front right side seat powers far forward to allow for maximum comfort and space in the rear. Every luxury option is standard on the Ultimate trim level, including heated and cooled seats, a refrigerator, rear-seat entertainment system and gold bullion storage compartment (or is that a glove box?).

The driver's and front passenger seats are not bad, either. Everywhere you look and touch, you are rewarded with quality materials, assembled with care and skill. I'm not generally a fan of wood trim in cars, but the wood in Equus is nice, even if its buried under a thick layer of clear coat.

The interior is so polished and elegant that complaints are few and minor, and I have only one: I'm not crazy about the font that they use on the controls and dash buttons -- it's not as sophisticated as the rest of the design.

Lexicon provided the audio and video technology aboard the Equus, and it's really great. You get home theater quality sound inside the cabin, with the new Lexicon Discrete LOGIC7 Surround Sound audio system that delivers 600 watts through 13 channels. Particular attention was paid to the sound quality in the rear seat, where the executive might be riding.

On the Road: Floating through life

Hyundai is great at benchmarking other successful brands, and engineering toward duplicating or bettering their results. Lexus has been the industry leader in cabin quietness -- until now. Equus's interior sound levels are the quietest that I've ever perceived. Road noise doesn't sneak in, no matter how pebbled the path. Very impressive.

Under the hood you'll find a great big 4.6 liter V8 engine with up-to-date technology like continuously variable valve timing and variable induction. Recognizing that its buyers might be thriftier than most luxury buyers, Hyundai has tuned the V8 to perform with either premium or regular gas, with only a slight performance penalty for the cheaper stuff. A ZF-sourced six speed automatic transmission sends power to the rear wheels. The Equus weighs in at just under two and a half tons, about what I expect for a big luxury sedan, and acceleration and performance are grunty, but not overwhelming.

The Equus' air suspension provides a smooth ride, especially when paired with the continuous damping control that adjusts shock-absorber performance. A newly developed electro-hydraulic power steering system provides excellent feel when turning. Some electric power steering systems feel numb, but the interaction of electric and hydraulic systems keeps the steering feel live in most driving situations.

Call it a gimmick, but it will probably sell a few Equii: the vehicle's manual will be loaded on an Apple iPad, instead of printed on paper. I love the idea, I've never had to worry about the batteries running low on my Toyota's paper manual when I was trying to figure out how to use the jack. Is this a smart use of technology, or too smart for its own good?

Journey's End: Who's zooming who?

Equus is significantly less expensive than comparably-equipped competitors, which Hyundai names as the Lexus LS 460 L ($70,925), Mercedes-Benz S550 ($91,600) and BMW 750Li ($86,400). I don't expect Equus to compete with the S-Class and the 7-series, no matter how much Hyundai believes that it will. A buyer who is considering a $90,000 S-Class is buying something more than an executive sedan -- they're buying into the Mercedes-Benz brand experience.

Hyundai has some great ideas about how to improve the brand experience for Equus, like delivering the vehicle to potential buyers' homes for test drives, specially-trained Hyundai dealers providing sales and service, and valet service for maintenance and repair. Hyundai has been preparing its buyers for a luxury experience for years, with the vast improvement in the Sonata and the introduction and success of the Genesis. But Hyundai is not Mercedes-Benz or BMW. Hyundai isn't even Lexus... yet.

I think the real competition for Equus is price point where you can get more for your money with a Hyundai: The BMW 550 Gran Turismo ($63,900) and the Mercedes-Benz E550 ($57,100) had better look out, because buyers looking for luxury and space might find the sweet spot in Equus long before they approach the $85,000 - 90,000 mark.

Bottom line: Equus represents another major step forward for Hyundai. I can't wait to see what's next. -- Jason Fogelson About.com

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Hyundai took on Toyota. Now for BMW.

Now the Harmons are a Hyundai family.

They already own two -- a 2008 Santa Fe sport utility vehicle and a 2005 Elantra -- and Mr. Harmon, a Chicago-area electrical contractor who owns several construction companies, has his eye on the Equus, a nearly $60,000 sedan that arrives in November.

"This will go head-to-head with the BMWs and Mercedes," Mr. Harmon said. "If you test-drive all of them with your eyes closed, you're going to pick the Hyundai."

The idea that Hyundai could compete with luxury automakers would have seemed absurd two decades ago, when its low-quality cars made the South Korean company a laughingstock in the United States.

These days, rivals know not to underestimate Hyundai and its affiliate, Kia, which have been posting record sales during one of the auto industry's most difficult periods.

"The challenge for the Korean companies is just to keep this winning streak going," said James Bell, executive market analyst with the automotive information firm Kelley Blue Book. "In a lot of ways, they followed the Japanese model of how to succeed in the marketplace."

But while Toyota and Honda built their empires largely on reliability and fuel economy, Hyundai and Kia have taken that formula a step further with a focus on making their vehicles attractive.

"You didn't really buy a Toyota Tercel because it was a beautiful car," Mr. Bell said. "The factor that the Koreans have added to that mix is styling."

As a result, Hyundai and Kia are becoming a serious threat to the Japanese dominance of most passenger car segments. Hyundai's midsize car, the Sonata, was the most researched vehicle in the country in May, according to Compete, a Boston research firm.

Sales of the Sonata, which accounts for one-third of Hyundai's total volume, are up about 50 percent this year, while demand for the Toyota Camry and the Honda Accord is down slightly. Even though the Camry and Accord remain tops in their segment, Hyundai has been closing the gap quickly.

Over all, Hyundai's market share in the United States has increased to nearly 5 percent, from 3 percent in 2008. Kia's share has grown to more than 3 percent, from 2.1 percent in 2008.

Together the two companies, which operate independently from each other in the United States but share some operations, now outsell the Japanese carmaker Nissan. In the second quarter, Hyundai was the fifth-most-considered brand in the country, bumping Nissan to sixth place, according to a Kelley Blue Book study.

Hyundai, Kia and Subaru of Japan were the only three automakers whose sales here increased in 2009.

Hyundai expects its United States sales to top 500,000 for the first time ever this year, as its rivals grapple with sales that are far below the level of several years ago, before the recession.

In fact, the recession has been a big reason behind the success that Hyundai and Kia have enjoyed in recent years. Their models are priced lower than most of the competition, but in better times many shoppers still might not have researched Hyundai or Kia enough to see what the vehicles offered.

"It gave us an opportunity to really reach some people who might not have looked at us before -- people who would have defaulted into an Accord or Camry," John Krafcik, the chief executive of Hyundai Motors America, said. "Times like these that force people to go deeper into the purchase analysis definitely favor us."

David Champion, the director of automotive testing for Consumer Reports, said shoppers who had not checked out Korean cars lately would probably be surprised.

"You're not getting a bargain-basement car," Mr. Champion said. "You're getting a very well-equipped car with good reliability. Every new Kia and Hyundai that we've tried has been so much better than the previous model and really, really competitive."

But for all their strides, the Korean companies still have work to do before they are broadly perceived to be among the industry's elite brands.

"It's still going to take time to get people into the cars and to spread the word of mouth," said Mr. Champion, who described Hyundai's foray into the luxury segments as selling "an Armani suit with a Wal-Mart label."

Hyundai and Kia have been marketing themselves heavily to overcome outdated perceptions -- in some cases filling voids left as the Detroit automakers pulled back on sponsorships and ads during big events like the Super Bowl.

"We didn't use to see doctors and lawyers and that type of affluent buyer, because it just wasn't socially acceptable to pull up in a Hyundai," said Brian Malpeli, who has sold Hyundais since the brand's early years and is the general sales manager at World Hyundai in Matteson, Ill. "But the more and more people start noticing us, the more they see the value in it."

Mr. Harmon, who bought his Santa Fe at World Hyundai, says saving thousands of dollars to get what he considers a more enjoyable vehicle trumps any concerns about whether the brand is fashionable.

"I know what kind of quality I'm sitting in," he said. "I don't care if I pull up next to a Porsche in my Santa Fe, because he spent $110,000 for his, and I spent $30,000 for mine, and I like mine more than his."

Article from: NY Times

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Gary Rome Hyundai Joined Hyundai Motor America to Help Fight Childhood Cancer with the 2010 Hope on Wheels Tour

September 2010 – Now in it's twelfth year, Hope on Wheels continues to embody Gary Rome Hyundai's commitment to helping kids fight cancer. Hope on Wheels has donated millions of dollars to children's hospitals across the country. This year the Tour will award grants to doctors doing important childhood cancer research. September is National Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month so Gary Rome Hyundai wants to do everything possible to help the cause.

On Tuesday September 14th at 11:30am Hyundai Hope On Wheels will be awarding a $100,000 grant at the D'amour Cancer Center, 3350 Main Street, Springfield, Massachusetts. Gary Rome Hyundai is proud to be a part of this incredible Grant Presentation and hopes area media will attend and help spread the word of how Hope On Wheels is benefiting the Baystate Health Foundation.

Every time a car is sold this September at Gary Rome Hyundai, Gary will donate $100 to Hope on Wheels. Gary Rome Hyundai is part of the 780 nationwide dealerships working diligently to raise as many dollars as possible.

The 2010 Hope of Wheels Tour is just one of the ways Gary Rome Hyundai gives back to the community. Several fund raising efforts as well as participation in local humanitarian promotions are very important ways Gary Rome Hyundai says thank you.

For more information and the complete list of 2010 Hyundai Hope on Tour stops visit www.hyundaihopeonwheels.org.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Hyundai Donates $2.1 Million to Childhood Cancer Research with 2010 Hope on Wheels Tour

Ceremonies at the New York International Auto Show and Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama Mark Launch of 2010 Hyundai Hope on Wheels Tour

Hyundai Motor America and its dealers will launch the 2010 Hyundai Hope on Wheels tour today during Hyundai's press conference at the New York International Auto Show. With newly-named Hope on Wheels National Youth Ambassador Brianna Commerford, 12, standing by, Hyundai CEO John Krafcik will announce the 2010 tour, which will visit more than 40 children's hospitals across the country. This year's tour will donate $2.1 million to support childhood cancer research.

Hope on Wheels National Youth Ambassador Brianna battled Stage IV Hodgkin's Lymphoma when she was just ten years old. Now healthy and in remission, Brianna wants to share her story to spread awareness and help bring hope to other children facing cancer. Brianna will serve a two-year term as the Hope on Wheels National Youth Ambassador.

"At Hyundai, we believe in doing what others might think is impossible," said John Krafcik, President and CEO of Hyundai Motor America. "With the dramatic increase in survival rates that we've seen over the past several decades, we believe that a cure for pediatric cancer is now within reach. Hyundai is focusing the bulk of our philanthropic efforts on funding childhood cancer research through Hope on Wheels so that one day no child will ever have to face cancer."

The first official hospital donation event of the year will take place later today as Hope on Wheels donates $125,000 to the Hope & Heroes program at NewYork-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital. This year, Dr. Jennifer Levine and Dr. Julia Glade Bender have been selected to receive the donation, which will support their research. Children receiving treatment at the hospital and their families will join Brianna and New York area Hyundai dealers for a special Handprint Ceremony at the Hyundai booth. The children will place their handprints in colorful paint on the 2010 Hyundai Santa Fe, the official vehicle of the Hope on Wheels Tour, to commemorate their brave battles with childhood cancer.

"Since 2004, Hyundai has been a dedicated donor to the children's cancer research program at the Herbert Irving Child and Adolescent Oncology Center," said Dr. Michael Weiner, director, Herbert Irving Child and Adolescent Oncology Center at NewYork-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital and Columbia University Medical Center. "We are proud to be a recipient of Hyundai's generosity and ongoing support for children with cancer."

Later this month, U.S. Hyundai dealers will gather at the company's manufacturing plant in Montgomery, Alabama for their annual national dealer meeting. The company and dealers together will present a ceremonial check for this year's $2.1 million donation to Brianna on behalf of all the children helped by childhood cancer research. The second hospital donation of the 2010 tour will be made to the Children's Hospital of Alabama in the amount of $40,000.

"On behalf of Hyundai dealers across the country, Hope on Wheels is honored to continue its support for childhood cancer research in 2010 and recognize the brave children who are battling this disease" said Oscar Leeser, President of the Hyundai Hope on Wheels Foundation and dealer owner of Hyundai of El Paso in El Paso, Texas. We are proud to be able to award research grants to the Hyundai Scholars – they are the pediatric oncologists whose unwavering dedication to research helps to care for children facing cancer and gives them hope for a healthy future."

This year Hyundai Hope on Wheels marks its 12th year of commitment to supporting childhood cancer research efforts. Hyundai and its dealers have donated more than $14 million to children's hospitals nationwide and collected hundreds of handprints from children fighting childhood cancer. Every time a new Hyundai vehicle is sold in the U.S., $5 is donated to Hope on Wheels. More information and the complete list of 2010 Hyundai Hope on Wheels tour stops is available at www.hyundaihopeonwheels.org.

HYUNDAI MOTOR AMERICA
Hyundai Motor America, headquartered in Fountain Valley, Calif., is a subsidiary of Hyundai Motor Co. of Korea. Hyundai vehicles are distributed throughout the United States by Hyundai Motor America and are sold and serviced through more than 780 dealerships nationwide.

HYUNDAI HOPE ON WHEELS
Hyundai Hope on Wheels™ is the united effort of all 780 Hyundai dealers across the U.S. to raise awareness about childhood cancer and celebrate the lives of children battling the disease. Hyundai Hope on Wheels has donated more than $14 million to childhood cancer research since 1998 and is an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Hyundai Brand Loyalty Replaces Toyota for the Number One Spot, According to Kelley Blue Book's KBB.com

All-new Sonata Emerges on the Top 10 Most Researched New Vehicle List

FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif., 03/15/2010 Brand loyalty for Hyundai recently surpassed that of Honda and replaced Toyota, allowing Hyundai to take the No. 1 spot among car shoppers, according to the latest Kelley Blue Book's www.kbb.com Market Intelligence data. Up from third place in Q4 2009, Hyundai saw the greatest increase in loyalty in February 2010, with Hyundai owners looking at new models within the brand increasing by 10.4 percentage points to 56.3 percent.

Furthermore, according to Kelley Blue Book Values data, throughout the month of February 2010 Hyundai outperformed the overall car segment average by a healthy margin. Hyundai values increased 2 percent month-over-month, relative to a 0.3 percent increase for the entire car segment.

"A large part of Hyundai's momentum is a result of introducing passionate new products like the 2011 Sonata and 2010 Tucson," said James Bell, executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com. "To sustain this momentum, Hyundai should continue to promote its attractive new-vehicle lineup, solid warranty offer and strong price-points to new-car shoppers."

In addition to topping brand loyalty, the all-new 2011 Sonata was named to kbb.com's Top 10 Most-Researched New Vehicles list for the first time. In February, the Sonata was the fifth most-researched new car on kbb.com alongside 'Top 10 Most-Researched' mainstays such as Accord, Civic, Camry and CR-V.

"2009 marked an unprecedented year for the Hyundai brand and we are well poised to keep the momentum going in 2010," said John Krafcik, president and CEO, Hyundai Motor America. "With impressive new vehicles like the all-new Sonata and our dedication to deliver stylish, fuel efficient and affordable vehicles, more customers are adding Hyundai models to their shopping lists."

This Kelley Blue Book Market Intelligence data analysis examined site traffic to used-car trade-in pages and new-car pricing report pages on Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com, and compared loyalty data from Q4 2009 to February 1 – 28, 2010. The Kelley Blue Book Values data within this release represents month-over-month used-vehicle depreciation percentages.

Kelley Blue Book (www.kbb.com) Since 1926, Kelley Blue Book, The Trusted Resource®, has provided vehicle buyers and sellers with the new and used vehicle information they need to accomplish their goals with confidence. The company's top-rated Web site, www.kbb.com, provides the most up-to-date pricing and values, including the New Car Blue Book® Value, which reveals what people actually are paying for new cars. The company also reports vehicle pricing and values via products and services, including software products and the famous Blue Book® Official Guide. According to the C.A. Walker Research Solutions, Inc. - 2009 Spring Automotive Web Site Usefulness Study, kbb.com is the most useful automotive information Web site among new and used vehicle shoppers, and half of online vehicle shoppers visit kbb.com. Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com also is a W3 Gold Award winner, sanctioned by the International Academy of Visual Arts. Kbb.com is a leading provider of new car prices, used car Blue Book Values, car reviews, new cars for sale, used cars for sale, and car dealer locations.

HYUNDAI MOTOR AMERICA Hyundai Motor America, headquartered in Fountain Valley, Calif., is a subsidiary of Hyundai Motor Co. of Korea. Hyundai vehicles are distributed throughout the United States by Hyundai Motor America and are sold and serviced through almost 800 dealerships nationwide. All Hyundai vehicles sold in the U.S. are covered by the Hyundai Assurance program which now includes the 5-year/60,000-mile fully transferable bumper-to-bumper warranty, Hyundai's 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty and 5-year complimentary Roadside Assistance in addition to the highly acclaimed vehicle return policy introduced in early 2009. For more details on Hyundai Assurance, please visit www.HyundaiAssurance.com.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Elantra Touring Named a 'Top 10 Family Car' by KBB.com

FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif., 03/03/2010 The 2010 Elantra Touring was named a "Top 10 Family Car" by Kelley Blue Book's www.kbb.com, the leading provider of new car and used car information. Elantra Touring was one of 10 cars that made the list of what kbb.com editors consider the very best of the best vehicles for families this year. Some other makes and models on the "Top 10 Family Car" list include, Ford Taurus, Honda Accord Crosstour, Chevrolet Equinox and Subaru Outback.

"While the product landscape in the new-car world seems ever-changing, the vehicle needs of the typical American family remain fairly constant; capable versatility, value, safety and economical factors usually remain top-of-mind," said Jack R. Nerad, executive editorial director and executive market analyst for kbb.com. "Sporting a roomy and flexible cargo area, a slew of safety features, an outstanding warranty and a low starting price, one could make a case for the 2010 Hyundai Elantra Touring as the most family-friendly small car out there. It's also easy on gas and not afraid to have a little fun."

Every year Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com assembles a list of the "Top 10 New Family Cars," evaluating an ever-lengthening list of eligible vehicles on such factors as resale value, fuel efficiency, capability and kid-friendliness.

The functional five-door Elantra Touring provides buyers with a unique offering in the compact segment, with its modern, sleek styling and fun-to-drive qualities. Elantra Touring offers standard Electronic Stability Control (ESC), in addition to a host of other class-leading safety technologies. It also offers loads of standard equipment making it ideal for the financially savvy car buyer. Standard features include air conditioning, AM/FM/XM/CD/MP3 audio system with six speakers and iPod®/USB and MP3 auxiliary input jacks, power windows, heated mirrors, power door locks, remote keyless entry with alarm and plenty of storage compartments including a cooled glove compartment.

"The Elantra Touring is a fun-to-drive, functional five-door that raises the bar in value, safety and quality," said Brandon Ramirez, Elantra Touring product manager, Hyundai Motor America. "The array of standard safety and convenience features, coupled with an outstanding warranty and unbeatable price point make this car the perfect model for any family."

For more information on the Top 10 Family Cars for 2010 from Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com, visit www.kbb.com/Top10FamilyCars.

KELLEY BLUE BOOK

Since 1926, Kelley Blue Book, The Trusted Resource®, has provided vehicle buyers and sellers with the new and used vehicle information they need to accomplish their goals with confidence. The company's top-rated Web site, www.kbb.com, provides the most up-to-date pricing and values, including the New Car Blue Book® Value, which reveals what people actually are paying for new cars. The company also reports vehicle pricing and values via products and services, including software products and the famous Blue Book® Official Guide. According to the C.A. Walker Research Solutions, Inc. - 2009 Spring Automotive Web Site Usefulness Study, kbb.com is the most useful automotive information Web site among new and used vehicle shoppers, and half of online vehicle shoppers visit kbb.com. Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com also is a W3 Gold Award winner, sanctioned by the International Academy of Visual Arts. Kbb.com is a leading provider of new car prices, used car Blue Book Values, car reviews, new cars for sale, used cars for sale, and car dealer locations.

HYUNDAI MOTOR AMERICA

Hyundai Motor America, headquartered in Fountain Valley, Calif., is a subsidiary of Hyundai Motor Co. of Korea. Hyundai vehicles are distributed throughout the United States by Hyundai Motor America and are sold and serviced through almost 800 dealerships nationwide. All Hyundai vehicles sold in the U.S. are covered by the Hyundai Assurance program which now includes the 5-year/60,000 mile fully transferable bumper-to-bumper warranty, Hyundai's 10-year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty and 5-year complimentary Roadside Assistance in addition to the highly acclaimed vehicle return policy introduced in early 2009. For more details on Hyundai Assurance, please visit www.HyundaiAssurance.com.

Monday, March 01, 2010

2011 Hyundai Sonata Named Top Safety Pick by IIHS

FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif, 02/18/2010 Today, the all-new 2011 Hyundai Sonata joins an elite group of motor vehicles as a "Top Safety Pick" of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). This award is only given to those vehicles that do a superior job protecting people in front, side, rear and rollover crashes. A car's ability to handle itself in these crashes is determined by how many "GOOD" ratings it receives in each of the IIHS tests. Additionally, the vehicle must have electronic stability control readily available as an option.

Sonata is built from the ground up with safety in mind, with a hot stamped ultra-high-strength steel body structure, advanced airbag technology and Electronic Stability Control (ESC), delivering on Hyundai's commitment to both active and passive safety technology leadership. In 2005, the Sonata was the first popular midsize sedan to standardize ESC-- once again every 2011 Sonata has lifesaving ESC as standard equipment. This is important because the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has reported that ESC results in 35 percent fewer single-vehicle crashes and 30 percent fewer single-vehicle fatalities in passenger cars.

The Sonata also features a state-of-the-art Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) including Brake Assist and Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD). Sonata features six airbags--including dual front, front seat-mounted side-impact, and front and rear side curtain airbags--along with active front-seat head restraints.

While past Hyundai models, such as the Genesis, have been named IIHS "Top Safety Picks," the standards are higher than ever for 2010, with a roof strength test added to the qualifications. According to the new guidelines, roofs must be more than double the strength of current federal requirements in order to better maintain vehicle integrity in the event of a rollover accident.

Because this roof strength test is so demanding, many of the vehicles that had previously been named "Top Safety Picks" were dropped from the list in 2010. From the 2011 Sonata's inception, Hyundai engineers carefully considered the importance of roof strength and designed the newest edition to pass this high hurdle set by the IIHS.

The other IIHS "Top Safety Pick" standards are stringent as well -- the institute's frontal crashworthiness evaluations are based on results of 40 mph frontal offset crash tests. Each vehicle's overall evaluation is based on measurements of intrusion into the occupant compartment, injury measures recorded on a dummy representing a 50th percentile male in the driver seat, and analysis of slow-motion film to assess how well the restraint system controlled dummy movement during the test.

Side evaluations are based on performance in a crash test in which the side of a vehicle is struck by a barrier moving at 31 mph. The barrier represents the front end of a pickup or SUV. Ratings reflect injury measures recorded on two instrumented dummies representing an average-sized woman, assessment of head protection countermeasures, and the vehicle's structural performance during the impact.

Rear crash protection is rated according to a two-step procedure. Starting points for the ratings are measurements of head restraint geometry -- the height of a restraint and its horizontal distance behind the back of the head of an average-size man. Seat/head restraints with good or acceptable geometry are tested dynamically using a dummy that measures forces on the neck. This test simulates a collision in which a stationary vehicle is struck in the rear at 20 mph.

HYUNDAI MOTOR AMERICA

Hyundai Motor America, headquartered in Fountain Valley, Calif., is a subsidiary of Hyundai Motor Co. of Korea. Hyundai vehicles are distributed throughout the United States by Hyundai Motor America and are sold and serviced through almost 800 dealerships nationwide. All Hyundai vehicles sold in the U.S. are covered by the Hyundai Assurance pro gram which now includes the 5-year/60,000-mile fully transferable bumper-to-bumper warranty, Hyundai's 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty and 5-year complimentary Roadside Assistance in addition to the highly acclaimed vehicle return policy introduced in early 2009. For more details on Hyundai Assurance, please visit www.HyundaiAssurance.com

Monday, February 22, 2010

Genesis Named 'Best Deal for the Boss' by Cars.com

FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif., 02/11/2010 The Genesis Sedan was named "Best Deal for the Boss" in the Cars.com annual Best Lifestyle Vehicle Awards. This award recognizes the Hyundai Genesis as the vehicle best suited to meet the lifestyle needs of "the boss" including luxury features, driving refinement, styling and prestige all in an affordable package.

"It's a rear-wheel-drive full-size sedan that offers a luxurious, spacious cabin and V-6 and V-8 drivetrains that are notable for their efficiency and performance," said Cars.com editors. "The Genesis comes standard with eight airbags and a stability system to help protect occupants, and it's available with convenience features like a 17-speaker audio system. On the whole, the Genesis does a remarkable job at delivering the experience of a high-end luxury sedan at a much lower price."

The Cars.com Lifestyle Awards recognize new vehicles that best suit the lifestyles of today's car shoppers, and acknowledge the best cars across a number of categories that car shoppers can identify with based on their personal vehicle needs.

The North American Car of the Year-winning Genesis is built on Hyundai's performance-driven rear-wheel drive architecture. Genesis offers an array of luxury convenience features including Smart Cruise Control, touch-screen navigation, electronic parking brake with automatic vehicle hold, Adaptive Front Lighting System (AFLS), Lexicon® audio systems and electronic active head restraints.

"We are thrilled to receive this recognition from Cars.com as it reinforces the Genesis ability to compete with the world's best luxury sedans," said Derek Joyce, Genesis product manager. "Genesis is the ideal model for car buyers looking for the power, comfort and sophisticated design of a luxury brand, without the expensive price tag."

Cars.com

Cars.com is the leading destination for online car shoppers, offering credible, easy-to-understand information from consumers and experts to help buyers formulate opinions on what to buy, where to buy and how much to pay for a car. With comprehensive pricing information, side-by-side comparison tools, photo galleries, videos, unbiased editorial content and a large selection of new- and used-car inventory, Cars.com puts millions of car buyers in control of their shopping process with the information they need to make confident buying decisions.

Launched in June 1998, Cars.com is a division of Classified Ventures, LLC, which is owned by leading media companies, including Belo (NYSE: BLC), Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE: GCI), The McClatchy Company (NYSE: MNI), Tribune Company and The Washington Post Company (NYSE: WPO).

HYUNDAI MOTOR AMERICA

Hyundai Motor America, headquartered in Fountain Valley, Calif., is a subsidiary of Hyundai Motor Co. of Korea. Hyundai vehicles are distributed throughout the United States by Hyundai Motor America and are sold and serviced through almost 800 dealerships nationwide. All Hyundai vehicles sold in the U.S. are covered by the Hyundai Assurance program which now includes the 5-year/60,000 mile fully transferable bumper-to-bumper warranty, Hyundai's 10-year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty and 5-year complimentary Roadside Assistance in addition to the highly acclaimed vehicle return policy introduced in early 2009. For more details on Hyundai Assurance, please visit www.HyundaiAssurance.com.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Genesis and Genesis Coupe Make CarsDirect's Top Ten Cars of the Decade

CarsDirect Recognizes the Genesis and Genesis Coupe at Number Five on its Top Ten Cars of the Decade Countdown

FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif., 01/08/2010 Hyundai's Genesis sedan and sportier sibling Genesis Coupe rang in at number five on CarsDirect's Top Ten Cars of the Decade Countdown. CarsDirect is one of the leading multi-brand online car buying services, providing new and pre-owned automobiles and related products and services. Other cars that made the Top Ten Cars of the Decade Countdown include the Honda S2000, Nissan Altima, Chevrolet Corvette, Nissan 350Z, Ford Fusion, Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, MINI Cooper, BMW 3 Series and Toyota Prius.

"Even though the Hyundai Genesis didn't enter the market until late in the decade, it was a game-changer nonetheless. When introduced in 2008, the Genesis marked a huge change for Hyundai," said Armaan Almeida, automotive editor, CarsDirect. "While the Genesis sedan tackles the full-size luxury segment, its sibling Genesis Coupe takes on sporty two-door cars like the G37 and 370Z. And like its sedan counterpart, it has yet to fail."

Hyundai's Genesis sedan, the 2009 North American Car of the Year, sets a new benchmark in the premium car category. With a starting price of just $33,000, Genesis includes performance and luxury features typically found on vehicles costing thousands of dollars more. Using the same flexible rear-wheel drive architecture, Genesis Coupe is Hyundai's most dynamic performance car ever designed to appeal to true driving enthusiasts. The Genesis Coupe offers a 2.0-liter intercooled four-cylinder turbocharged engine producing 210 horsepower, and a 3.8-liter V6 with 306 horsepower.

"2009 has been a remarkable year for Hyundai and having the Genesis and Genesis Coupe recognized by CarsDirect on its Top Ten Cars of the Decade helps us carry the momentum into 2010," said Scott Margason, director, Product Planning, Hyundai Motor America. "The Genesis and Genesis Coupe have proven Hyundai is a brand capable of creating game-changing vehicles and we look forward delivering more quality, stylish and affordable cars in the new year."

CARSDIRECT

CarsDirect (www.carsdirect.com) is a leading online automotive shopping service and research portal, providing new and used automobiles and related products and services, such as loan and lease financing. CarsDirect is a division of Los Angeles-based Internet Brands (www.internetbrands.com), a leading operator of community and e-commerce consumer websites.

HYUNDAI MOTOR AMERICA

Hyundai Motor America, headquartered in Fountain Valley, Calif., is a subsidiary of Hyundai Motor Co. of Korea. Hyundai vehicles are distributed throughout the United States by Hyundai Motor America and are sold and serviced through almost 800 dealerships nationwide. All Hyundai vehicles sold in the U.S. are covered by the Hyundai Assurance program which now includes the 5-year/60,000 mile fully transferable bumper-to-bumper warranty, Hyundai's 10-year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty and 5-year complimentary Roadside Assistance in addition to the highly acclaimed vehicle return policy introduced in early 2009. For more details on Hyundai Assurance, please visit www.HyundaiAssurance.com.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Hyundai smokes the competition

(Fortune Magazine) -- On the second floor of the 21-story Hyundai Motor headquarters in the south of Seoul is a 24-hour operations hub, the Global Command and Control Center (GCCC). Modeled after the CNN newsroom in Atlanta with dozens of computer screens relaying video and data, it keeps watch on Hyundai operations around the world.

Parts shipments are tracked from the time they leave the supplier until they reach a plant. Cameras peer into assembly lines from Beijing to Montgomery and keep a close watch on Hyundai's giant Ulsan, Korea, plant, the world's largest integrated auto factory and the scene of frequent labor unrest.

Are competitors' spies lurking? The GCCC watches over Hyundai R&D activities in Europe, Japan, and North America, as well as its sprawling, 4,300-acre test facility in California's Mojave Desert, with its 6.4-mile oval track.

Almost no outsiders, and certainly no visitors from Fortune, are allowed inside the GCCC to view the operation firsthand. Hyundai employees aren't even supposed to talk about it. But its existence says volumes about how Hyundai views itself and the rest of the world.

Hyundai is a confident, hyperaggressive company that not only wants to win, it expects to win. By monitoring operations in real time, Hyundai can identify problems in an instant and react quickly. It is a different philosophy for an auto company. Whereas Toyota (TM) thrives on consistency and Honda (HMC) on innovation, Hyundai is all about aggressiveness and speed.

These days Hyundai (rhymes with "Sunday") could get ticketed for exceeding the limit. Powered by a weak Korean won and a revitalized product line, it is ramping up volumes in major markets around the world.

Along with sister company Kia, of which it owns 39%, Hyundai has a hammerlock on Korea, with 80% of sales this year. In the U.S. generous incentives for retail customers and fleet purchases have pushed sales up a strong 7% in a market down 24%. November was a spectacular month: Hyundai brand sales jumped 46% from the previous year, and Kia rose 18%.

In China, where auto sales have skyrocketed this year thanks to government stimulus, Hyundai leaped 150% in September, leaving the company in second place, behind Volkswagen, among international automakers.

Behind the scenes at Hyundai

To take advantage of its momentum, Hyundai is pushing new models out of its factories faster and faster. American customers got to see the slick new 2011 Sonata in December, two months ahead of schedule, because, in an unusual move, Hyundai sped up the start of production.

Automakers hate to interfere with factory schedules because it is expensive, disrupts the flow of parts, and invites assembly problems. But Hyundai decided to move ahead. It was receiving good reads on early quality checks, suppliers showed ample stocks of parts, and engineers had prepped its Alabama plant. Speed became a competitive advantage.

Moving quickly and boldly has made Hyundai Motor Co. the fastest-growing major automaker in the world. Amid the global sales slump, it made a record $832 million in the third quarter ended Sept. 30. Analysts expect its net profits to rise almost 40% this year.

Despite its relative youth -- it is only 43 years old -- Hyundai already ranks fifth in volume among the world's auto producers, according to IHS Global Insight, and passed 107-year-old Ford Motor (F, Fortune 500) in 2009 to move into fourth place. Years ago Toyota used to say that Hyundai was the company it feared most. Today those fears have grown into a nightmare.

Despite their success, Hyundai executives keep pushing for more. Hyundai and Kia currently have capacity for 5.8 million cars and trucks. "We want to grow to 6.5 million units in two years," says Steve Yang, president and CEO, over a traditional multicourse Korean lunch at a small restaurant in Seoul.

Since Hyundai was expected to produce 5.2 million vehicles in 2009, that means a steep ramp-up if it wants to operate at full capacity. Western auto experts cringe at such a notion, because a big increase in volume can compromise quality and dilute brand equity. But Yang made the pledge with a smile as if he were merely exchanging polite chitchat. At Hyundai, it is understood that impossible targets are part of its way of doing business.

Sometimes speeding leads to accidents. Hyundai entered the U.S. market in 1986 with a single model, the Excel, which sold for $4,995 -- a price that so captivated bargain-minded Americans that Hyundai set a first-year record by selling 126,000 cars.

Its second year in business, Hyundai adopted the slogan "Cars that make sense" and set another record, selling 264,000 Excels. In its haste to grow, Hyundai made two near-fatal errors. It made fragile cars and sold them to noncreditworthy customers. When the cars were repossessed, their quality was so poor that they were worth less than the outstanding loans.

Hyundai is making another big gamble this year by introducing a premium luxury car called the Equus that is priced thousands of dollars higher than any car Hyundai has sold before. The Equus (Latin for "horse"), expected to cost around $60,000, will cost more than most Cadillacs and is designed to compete with top-of-the-line models marketed by Mercedes, BMW, and Audi that sell for $20,000 more.

Depending on your point of view, the introduction of the Equus is either ambitious, arrogant, or ignorant. Popular brands like Hyundai are not supposed to stretch into premium luxury territory; consumers want a prestige label when they pay a prestige price. Volkswagen found that out a couple of years ago when it tried to sell a $70,000 car called the Phaeton. Despite its technical excellence, potential buyers didn't associate the people's car with a high-priced sedan.

Test-driving the Equus

Judged on its merits, not its image, the Equus is a winner. Fortune had an opportunity to test one in Korea and found it surprisingly competitive with German luxury sedans under normal driving conditions.

The exterior could go on a chrome diet, but otherwise the Equus adheres to the conservative design standards required for luxury cars. The interior is best in class, intelligently crafted from fine materials and smartly laid out. The spacious rear seat, where many Asian buyers will spend their time, is equipped with a variety of diversionary devices, including one that provides a back massage.

Powered by a smooth, quiet, 4.6-liter V-8, the Equus should appeal to customers for whom value is a higher priority than association with a three-pointed star or dual-kidney grille.

No such identity crisis faces Kia, which got its start as a bicycle manufacturer and has become a power in its own right with a line of smaller, sportier cars. In the U.S. it markets six passenger cars and five crossovers with idiosyncratic names like Borrego, Rondo, and Soul, and has built its own U.S. plant in West Point, Ga.

Kias are typically priced below competing models and, loaded with options and carrying a strong warranty, represent an attractive value. From its U.S. market debut in February 1994, Kia has expanded methodically to become the eighth-most-popular brand in the U.S., outselling such stalwarts as Jeep, Subaru, and Lexus. Through November its sales had risen 8%.

How do the Koreans do it? In addition to getting big, Hyundai has gotten good. Once known as a cheap and cheerful brand that offered a comprehensive warranty to make up for mechanical shortcomings, Hyundai has become a respected name and a smart buy.

"Hyundai is a brand that is on the verge of being aspirational," says New York--based consultant and investor John Casesa. "People are saying they are proud to own it, not just to settle for it."

The evidence can be seen in the strengthening demographics of Hyundai owners. Last year some 49% were college graduates, compared with just 36% in 1999. By comparison, Toyota has a higher percentage of college grads -- 57% -- but the number hasn't grown much, up only two percentage points in 10 years.

New leadership, new focus

Hyundai's success reflects a shift in attitude that occurred nearly a decade ago. In the 1990s the company was more interested in how many cars it could build than in how good it could make them. That changed in 1999 when founder Ju-Yung Chung passed corporate leadership to his son, Mong-Koo Chung.

According to company lore, the younger Chung decreed that Hyundai would henceforth concentrate on quality, not volume. With the chairman behind the push, and with its characteristic intensity, Hyundai went after quality improvements with a vengeance.

Hyundai benchmarked Toyota, then the industry's quality leader, to understand its processes. It installed Six Sigma at its engineering center to measure its improvement. It made quality a cross-functional responsibility, with involvement from procurement, finance, and sales and marketing. It enlisted outside suppliers and put them together with designers and engineers to work out problems before they occurred. Quality oversight meetings, which had been poorly attended, became must-go events after chairman Chung began to show up for twice-monthly gatherings.

Three years ago legal problems diverted Chung from his quality push. In May 2006 he was indicted on charges of embezzling some $100 million from Hyundai and its subsidiaries for a political slush fund. He was detained by authorities for two months before being released on bail. The following February he was found guilty and sentenced to three years in prison. But an appeals court decided that he was too valuable to the Korean economy to be incarcerated and suspended his sentence.

At 71, Chung still takes an active role in the company. He typically arrives in the office by 6:30 a.m. and gets frequent briefings from the CEOs of Hyundai and Kia, as well as their subsidiaries. He has taken a particular interest in a new $5 billion mill being built by Hyundai Steel to make lightweight, high-tensile steel for automobiles, and travels to the construction site by helicopter as often as four times a week.

Chung, who rarely gives interviews to English-language publications, spoke with Fortune through an interpreter from his penthouse office in the Hyundai tower. Chung attributes his company's success to the investment it has made in improving its products. He believes that Hyundai's quality, as well as its technology, "are head to head with Toyota at this moment," a statement he makes with some confidence since "we are monitoring what is going on with Toyota all the time."

Asked what scares Hyundai the most, he replied, "The thing we fear is uncertainty. There are many announcements about demand shrinking, and all the numbers are different."

Hyundai's quality success is a testament to the power of focused management and aggressive goals. In 2001 Hyundai ranked 32nd out of 37 brands in J.D. Power's study of new vehicle quality after 90 days of ownership -- close to the bottom. As its quality efforts took hold, it began moving up the list, and it achieved a breakthrough in 2004 when it reached seventh place. Since then, Hyundai has placed third in 2006 and then fourth in 2009, displacing Toyota as the highest- ranked mass-market brand in the world. (Three luxury brands -- Lexus, Porsche, and Cadillac -- finished ahead of it.)

Characteristically, Hyundai is aiming yet higher. It has developed a two-part quality target it calls GQ 3-3-5-5, as Joon-Sang Kim, executive vice president of Hyundai-Kia's Quality Division, explained in an interview. Hyundai aims to finish in the top three in actual quality within three years as measured by Power's dependability survey -- and to finish in the top five in perceived quality in five years.

The first goal seems achievable. Hyundai has had solid, if unspectacular, success in the Power study, which measures problems experienced by original owners of three-year-old vehicles. From a rank of 35th out of 38 in 2001, it moved up to 20th by 2006 and kept climbing, finishing in 14th place in 2009.

Moving into the top five in perceived quality will be more difficult. That's because the rankings are based on the way outsiders perceive Hyundai. This year Hyundai ranked 11th in the brand-evaluation analysis performed by ALG (Automotive Lease Guide), which determines the residual value of cars for lease purposes.

At Hyundai Motor America's headquarters in Fountain Valley, Calif., the managers are learning they have to run fast to keep up with their Korean bosses. "Hyundai is an ambitious company that looks for boldness and leadership," says John Krafcik, president and CEO, who once referred to his employer as the "hardest-working company on the planet."

Having toiled under Jac Nasser at Ford, Krafcik, 48, is an expert on boldness and hard work, and he knows the industry from the inside out. Trained at MIT, he visited assembly plants around the world for the 1989 study "The Machine That Changed the World," about the Toyota manufacturing system, and he coined the term "lean production."

Krafcik joined Hyundai after 14 years at Ford overseeing development of SUVs, and he ascended to the top job at Hyundai America after one of its periodic management shakeups, the fifth in six years.

After working in Detroit's belt-and-suspenders culture, the boyish Krafcik delights in the challenges presented by Hyundai's determination to break rules. "One of the reasons we move fast is fewer people," says Krafcik. "Speed doesn't suffer bureaucrats well."

A willingness to take risks also keeps things moving. "Typically," adds Krafcik, "when we set targets, we haven't yet made a plan for how to get there." Krafcik says that when the company vowed to achieve a corporate fleet average fuel economy of 35 miles per gallon by 2015, a year ahead of the government deadline, it wasn't sure how it would do it.

Hyundai also likes to wait until the last possible moment to make decisions. "When developing a new model," says Krafcik, "companies typically sign off on the characteristics of the powertrain 4 1/2 months before production. Hyundai waits until a month ahead so that it can incorporate the most recent performance data." It's a technique that allows it to stay close to its customers, but it also increases the likelihood of mistakes.

Nothing shows off Hyundai's opportunistic culture better than its U.S. marketing team. Headed by Joel Ewanick, who joined Hyundai in February 2007 after stints at Porsche, Yamaha, and Hinckley Yachts, it operates like the war room of a political campaign, making lightning strikes when it sees an opportunity.

A year ago it noticed growing fears among customers about unemployment, so it developed a program that allowed them to return their new Hyundais risk-free if they lose their jobs. Pulling together such a program -- which included production of a TV commercial shown during the 2009 Super Bowl -- would take several months at other companies, but Hyundai marketers got the job done in 37 days. The campaign, called "Assurance," won Hyundai enormous amounts of attention and goodwill, even though only about 100 customers returned their cars.

Ewanick, 49, says programs like that are vital because buyers no longer respond to traditional cash and interest-rate promotions. He is looking for new ways to create showroom traffic. Last summer he devised the "Assurance Gas Lock," which guaranteed customers $1.49-a-gallon gasoline for a year.

Then Hyundai beat the government's Cash for Clunkers program to the punch by offering tax credits to buyers several weeks before the program started. "Customers want to be involved with the brand," says Ewanick. "Incentives aren't enough. We want to break away and have Hyundai be considered as more than a car company."

That doesn't mean that Hyundai doesn't use incentives -- and use them very effectively. It just does so where the consumer can't see them but where they drive down the transaction price.

Consultant Kimberly Rodriguez of Grant Thornton in Detroit cites data showing that Hyundai was spending $2,825 per car on incentives for the first 10 months of 2009 -- more than any other Asian manufacturer -- and selling lots of excess production into rental-car fleets. "They are clearly taking advantage of a lull in the action," says Rodriguez, "and with currency in their favor, they can afford to do it."

Whatever the attraction, customers seem to be getting a new message about Hyundai. Five years ago Hyundai was known for its low prices, so-so quality, and a 100,000-mile powertrain warranty. Today, Ewanick says, Hyundai stands for softer, more positive qualities like smart, fresh, and high-tech. "Consumers," he says, "want brands that feel the same way they do about society and the environment. But they don't want to pay for it."

Labor union disputes to Genesis' success

The automaker's origins date back to the Hyundai Engineering & Construction Co. (Hyundai means "modernity" in Korean), which was founded after World War II and created Hyundai Motor in 1967. Thanks to high tariffs that rebuffed foreign manufacturers, the motor company thrived and was spun off as a separate enterprise in 1998.

That same year it acquired a controlling stake in rival Kia, which was struggling from the Asian financial crisis. Gradually the two companies are consolidating around common functions for economies of scale, but they are keeping the Hyundai and Kia brands separate for marketing and distribution purposes: Hyundai is positioned as the responsible adult, while Kia is the mischievous adolescent.

Hyundai's growth was accompanied by a decade of labor union disputes that produced paralyzing strikes. Labor rights in South Korea had been long suppressed, and a series of healthy pay increases kept its militant labor unions at bay until the mid-1990s.

But the financial crisis as well as an industry slump brought the strikers out in force, and Hyundai was hit by a seemingly endless number of work stoppages. A 47-day walkout in 2003 cost Hyundai an estimated $1.2 billion in exports. Since then a measure of labor peace has been restored. The strikes haven't become a thing of the past -- there is usually one a year -- but the level of vitriol has been reduced.

In the U.S., Hyundai spun its wheels for a decade after the Excel fiasco, selling inexpensive cars to lower-income customers as it churned through a succession of U.S. sales executives who failed to meet its aggressive targets. But along with improved quality, Hyundai began to pay attention to international designs with greater market appeal. Its cars developed cleaner lines with more elegant details as Hyundai moved away from traditional Korean styles, which tend to be baroque and fussy.

The two trends -- better quality, sharper designs -- came vividly together in 2008 with the launch of the Genesis sedan. A step up from the midsize Sonata, Hyundai's best U.S. seller, the Genesis is powered by a V-6 engine (with an optional V-8) and is designed to compete in the so-called entry luxe segment with cars like the Lexus ES 350.

The journalists who judge the North American Car of the Year competition made it the surprise winner in 2009, an award Ewanick and his team promptly made a centerpiece of their advertising. With a starting price of $32,250, the Genesis was recognized by customers as an attractive value, and they have been buying more than 1,500 units a month. The success of the Genesis in such a highly competitive segment signaled Hyundai's arrival as a top-tier manufacturer.

Speedy in most matters, Hyundai has been a laggard when it comes to developing alternative-fuel vehicles. It didn't introduce its first fuel-saving hybrid until last summer, a decade after Toyota started selling the Prius. Typically, Hyundai's ambitions remain huge. Despite its late start, it has stated its intention to sell 500,000 hybrids a year by 2018. Hyundai has developed a lithium-polymer battery that is 40% smaller and weighs 35% less than conventional nickel-metal-hydride ones used in the Toyota Prius.

A wave of new models should keep both Hyundai and Kia hustling over the next few years. The two companies are due to turn over their entire U.S. product line in the course of the next four years, the highest replacement rate in the industry, according to a forecast by Merrill Lynch/Bank of America's John Lynch. He sees Hyundai and Kia gaining 3 1/2 points of market share over the span. That would be enough to vault the Koreans past Chrysler and Nissan into fifth place in the U.S., with a share of 10.8% by 2013.

The old bumper sticker used to preach that speed kills, but Hyundai shows no signs of slowing down -- and so far has no need to report any casualties.

By Alex Taylor III
money.cnn.com