Are the South Koreans ready to take over the automotive marketplace?

HYUNDAI and Kia are sister manufacturers that have been revving their engines for a while now, but it’s been in the last few years that they’ve really made some significant gains.

Indeed, they might be on course to topple some of the biggest giants on the board, with data suggesting that both brands are set to rival both Toyota and VW.

This would bring South Korea kicking and screaming onto the automotive world stage in a bold and dramatic way.

The South Korean car industry has changed dramatically in the last 30 years and while both Hyundai and Kia now build most of their cars abroad, that’s only because they’ve run out of the physical space to keep up with demand at home.

Where once South Korean cars were met with widespread derision, they are now the envy of the global stage as incredibly handsome and reliable cars coming off both major manufacturers production lines.

Indeed, whilst only a few years ago Hyundai and Kia were seen as ‘lesser’ brands, today, alongside the luxury brand Genesis, their cars have ranked amongst the most reliable cars in the world according to the 2018 J.D. Power quality rankings. The three Korean brands were found to have the fewest problems per 100 new vehicles.

This year, the World Car Awards jurors travelled to Seoul to examine the range of vehicles currently in production, which range from top-tier traditional petrol cars to pure electric vehicles.

The general consensus was that the new offerings from both were as good as anything that’s been offered up by Japanese and European manufacturers in recent years.

The major changes can be at least partly put down to a change in leadership. Chung Eui-sun, executive vice chairman of Hyundai has implemented a leadership technique that has been described as “visionary.”

He’s brought in experts from high profile competitors like BMW, Bently and Audi to create a clear distinction between the South Korean brands and international peers.