Besides of its size and current market share in the automotive sector, Hyundai has a very interesting history. In 1962, South Korea recognized the motor vehicle industry as a critical factor for the economic development. As it is the case for a lot of the very big and successful companies, there was a significant governmental influence in the growth of this giant founded in 1967.
Hyundai is principally engaged in the manufacture and distribution of automobiles and automobile parts. Along with its subsidiaries, the Company operates in three business divisions: vehicle division, financial division and other business division. Its vehicle division manufactures automobiles under the brand names of Genesis, Tucson, Equus, Veloster, Azera, Sonata, Elantra, Accent, among others, and commercial vehicles, including trucks, buses, special vehicles and others, as well as provides automobile maintenance services and related components. Right now, Hyundai is the 4th largest car manufacturer in the world. But the recent numbers are even more astonishing, as they show that the company managed to sell more than 4.7 Million vehicles per year, which leads to a revenue of 86 billion US Dollars with 63,000 employees.
We could not leave South Korea without visiting one of the factories of Hyundai. Almost at the end of the residency trip, we had a tour in one of the company´s building as it was a surprise that our program director had prepared for us.
As soon as we arrived to the plant that was surrounded by nature, we had the opportunity to take a look to some of the latest models that were exhibited in the main hall. Among them, there was prototype of the Sonata Hybrid, clearly evidencing that the new focus of the company is on developing eco – friendly cars and this will probably lead to even more innovations as South Korea is also very well equipment when it comes to the electronic sector. Just after that, we had a small conference in a very fancy room where we were able to watch a video that gave us a better idea of the company history and projects.
Later on, we had a tour in the plant where we could witness the manufacture process of the models Sonata and Grandeur. Our eyes were amazed by the size of the plant and moreover, for its level of automation. 90% of the processes were made by a bunch of robotic arms producing Hyundai cars that were able to communicate between them in perfectly timed way. It is a very strong indicator on the very well-advanced degree of independence in manufacturing and how South Korean companies are aiming to make their production plans even more autonomous.
Keeping the same line during all the tour, we saw few humans until we arrived to the Assembling line. Here, there were some workers putting several components in place on the cars. As explained by the manager of the plant afterwards, there is a strong influence of labour unions in South Korea. The automotive sector could be even more automatised but they need to protect the jobs of the workers, hence some production processes remain in human hands. Furthermore, there are some assembly steps which are too complicated for robots and require the precision of men.
It was an amazing and unique experience. We are proud to say that we visited the facilities of one of the biggest car manufacturers and these memories will remain for ever on us, as well as the low scale Hyundai models that they gave us as souvenirs at the end of the tour.