• Oct 4, 2009
Old Hyundai Excel print ad. Nobody's laughing at Hyundai today.

Japan's automakers know a threat when they see one, and based on their words, it sure isn't in Michigan. Motown is fleeting image in the Japanese carmakers' rearview mirrors, which they're now nervously checking for a budding South Korean juggernaut. Honda CEO Takanobu Ito minced no words when he told the Associated Press, "Hyundai is awesome. They are undoubtedly a threat because their products are cheap, and the quality is improving." The numbers seem to bear that out, as Hyundai and its corporate sibling, Kia, continue to show substantial sales chart improvements in key markets like the Europe and the US, where it continues to show strong growth while many other automakers look at double-digit shortfalls year-over-year. Nissan's Shiro Nakamura echoes Honda's Ito when it comes to identifying Japan's new boogeyman, "Hyundai is the biggest threat for the Japanese automakers. They have the technology, but they seem to have cheaper labour."

Hyundai, once basically a joke (we all remember such legendary products as the Excel, pictured above), is catching the Japanese by beating them at their own game -- offering a mix of value and quality that's hard for shoppers to ignore. Japan knows it needs to defend itself, too. After all, once upon a time, they were what Hyundai is now. In the grand scheme of things, it wasn't too long ago that one could chuckle at Honda's initial foray into the States. We know how that turned out. Now you have to wonder how long it'll be until we see quotes from Hyundai's leadership talking about the Chinese the way Nissan and Japan talk about Hyundai.

[Source: The Canadian Press via TTAC)


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  • 96 Comments
      Jan
      • 5 Years Ago
      I bought the Hyundai XG350 new in '05. It looks like an old ladies semi luxury car. I have a little over 60k miles on it and it will still kick ass and take names. I can burn rubber on cold pavement. You should see people stare at me when I leave them sucking my exhaust at the green lights.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Hyundai is almost there. I personally wouldn't choose any of their cars over the competition right now but have been trying to change the minds of those who look at me crazy when I recommend them to anyone that wants a good cheap car.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Sorry bwzd7p2 but Korea, Japan and China all manipulate currency. The GM-Europe (Opel) president said this was the biggest threat to German/Opel success and largest cause of over capacity. An article was posted on Autochannel quoting him.

      The US complain about anything with Bush and Clinton for the last 16 years - never happen. American companies want cheap Chinese labor how can they complain about currency manipulation?

      Bottomline it is happening and it isn;t good for the West but the TPTB don't care enough to stop it.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Produce some proof to counter the neutral article I posted or STFU.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Are you sure you didn't mean to put the "This isn't a repeat from 2005" label from the MG story on this? Because "Hyundai's aren't crap any more" isn't exactly what you'd call breaking news.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Don't hold your breath on the Chinese. I don't see the words quality and Chinese in the same sense ever. Whether it's killing babies with tainted baby formula, or children with lead paint, or the wondrous chinese car that failed miserably in EuroNCAP , Brilliance B4 is a brilliant failure. 1 out of 5 stars lets not forget....

      But, they honestly have years upon years to make something even minutely good.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I agree. The Japanese and Koreans have integrity and pride built into their psyches that the Chinese corporate culture severely lacks.

        Chinese companies, as we have seen in the past year, are all about cheating and covering-up, all in the short-term goal of making extra profit. This will not serve them well. Even against their own people, the Chinese seem to have no shame or bear no responsibility, as though even their own citizens are merely disposable product. It's disgusting. Bottom line: [Mainland] Chinese products are not to be trusted (the claims, the metallurgy, the safety, the reliability -- you name it). It's all about the "appearance", but without the substance.

        The Japanese and Koreans would never stoop so low.

        Regarding the statements by Honda and Nissan, I think they're already past-tense. Hyundai has actually surpassed them in many ways. They are no longer justt in their rear view mirrors, catching up. I wonder if they realize that, or if they're simply in denial and disbelief.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Considering that most of the things right now are mostly "Made in China" (from TVs to computers, clothes you name it) , I don't think that it will be long before the Chinese make cars that are good enough. Yes, they do need to improve their design though.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Hyundai got their bad rep not because the car was cheap but because cheap people bought the cars and didn't have the money to maintain them properly. I currently own my fifth Hyundai and each has been a stellar performer. Sure, there are some cosmetic items that could be improved but the mechanical end of the vehicle is world class in terms of reliability.

      Everybody was talking about how wonderful Mitsubishi was yet the engines in the early Hyundais were built by Mitsubishi. Again, cheap people who didn't maintain their vehicles were the basis for the poor reputation of early Hyundais.

      Many people don't realize that back when Honda was building motorcycles, lawn mowers, and weed eaters, Hyundai was building heavy machinery like ships, cranes, and heavy transport. They aren't new to the game.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Exactly the same argument applies to the US brands, silly.

        I've seen the same argument applied to Yugo, and I personally have used the same argument about Ladas, albeit sarcastically.
      • 5 Years Ago
      @daleam:
      Yeah, you're right. Sort of. Sure, GM is the topselling automaker in the US, but you're forgetting one thing: GM consists of THREE different brands: Buick, Cadillac, and Chevrolet.
      So of course they're selling more compared to just Toyota.
      Now, a more even comparison would be comparing GM to all of Toyota's brands in US: Lexus, Toyota, and Scion. Who's selling more now?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Nah... there's more to buying a car than cheap prices and quality. Good styling and good performance is a must too nowadays. Case in point, if all BMW make is cheap, quiet and quality car then Audi would be on top of them.
      Kreator
      • 5 Years Ago
      I saw a Forte for the first time yesterday. I wasn't impressed, it gives the impression that it's a car that should have been released long time ago, it doesn't feel anything new or live up to the hype and marketing they had made. Also it LOOKS like a second version of a civic. Now I'm not a hater, just wished they had more confidence about themselves and be more original.
        Kreator
        • 5 Years Ago
        @Kreator
        Despite numbers, if they don't change the mentality or philosophy of the corporation they won't improve image at all, that's my 2 cents.
      • 5 Years Ago
      In order for this to be a true repeat for the Japanese of what the Japanese did to the Americans, a few things would need to happen.

      The US government would have to legislate regulations around what the Koreans are currently making that would go into effect for all cars in a time frame shorter than it takes to bring a new car to market. That's possible.

      The Japanese government would have to do the same thing in its market and allow the Koreans to take over a big segment of their market. Not going to happen.

      Losing the US market might hurt the Japanese and they may no longer be able to support 8-9 automakers, but they would always have their home market.
      • 5 Years Ago
      What's funny to me is that a LOT of people think Hyundais are super unreliable.

      My girlfriend has had a 98 Accent since senior year of high school (so about 4 years now), and it leaks oil due to a stupid Jiffy Lube guy... causing her to run it dry regularly. It's still going strong, much to my amazement.

      Any car that survive HER car maintenance record has got to be some kind of miracle car.
        • 5 Years Ago
        That's true, Raffi. I wasn't trying to prove that they're all reliable based on my GF's one experience. Just saying that there are very reliable Hyundais.
      • 5 Years Ago
      IT IS ALL PURE CRAP. HONDA-MASTER OF CRAP REVIEWING MORE CRAP, INCLUDING THE ONES WHO THINK THEY KNOW WHAT THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT.

      REAL AMERICAN, I MEAN REAL AMERICAN BUY AMERICAN MADE CARS AND TRUCKS, NOT FOREIGN CRAP, INCLUDING JAP JUNK.

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