Hyundai announced today that it has passed the five million sales milestone in the U.S. since entering the market a little over two decades ago. During that time, Hyundai has transformed itself from a cheap and shoddy import brand into one that can rival industry leader Toyota for reliability, and is now on track to reach its goal of being the fifth largest automaker in the world by the end of the decade.

The first Hyundai to be sold in the U.S. was the Excel compact, which arrived back in 1986. Hyundai was unprepared for the levels of sales its Excel would enjoy, and consequently couldn't provide adequate service for its rapidly growing customer base. This led to the company being stereotyped as the maker of unreliable cars, but this all changed at the turn of the century when Chairman Chung Mong-koo made quality a key priority.

Today, Hyundai is manufacturing cars in the U.S. and Europe and is on target to reach 550,000 sales in America for this year. Recently, products like the new Veracruz and Santa Fe have shown just how far Hyundai has come. Next up is the Genesis luxury sedan and a rear-wheel-drive coupe.

[Source: Detroit News]