Hyundai i30

It's official: five million Hyundai vehicles have been paired with paying customers in Europe since 1977. It began with a Hyundai Pony sent home with a UK buyer, and the latest milestone was achieved with the sale of an i30 (pictured). Although it works out to roughly 147,000 cars per year over those 34 years, the Korean firm didn't hit the million-sales mark until 1996. The second million came in 2001, the third million in 2005, and it's been another million every three years since.

More than half of those sales are accounted for by just five European countries, with Germany in the lead at 714,260 units. There's a press release after the jump with all the info.
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HYUNDAI HITS FIVE MILLION SALES IN EUROPE

High Wycombe, 27 May 2011 -- Hyundai has sold five million vehicles in Europe since the first Hyundai Pony was imported in 1977. The five millionth vehicle was an i30, which was launched in 2007 and has subsequently sold just over 320,000 units across the european dealer network.

Hyundai's sales momentum in Europe has increased steadily since 1977, culminating more recently in a significant rise in demand for the brand's cars that saw the last one million sales achieved in just three years. For 27 consecutive months up to March 2011, Hyundai has outperformed the market sales trend in Europe.

It took until 1996 before Hyundai recorded its first million sales in Europe, and the two millionth car was sold in 2001. With a growing awareness among European consumers and an expanding network of retailers covering a greater geographical area, Hyundai was able to hit the three million mark by 2005 and then four million in 2008.

It was in 2007 that the company's progress moved into a higher gear, with the introduction of the i30 in Europe. The i30 was not only the first Hyundai product designed and engineered to appeal specifically to the tastes of European consumers, it was also the first of the company's products to carry the 'i' prefix, establishing a system of nomenclature that continues today.

The i30 is a truly European car, built at Hyundai's first manufacturing facility in Europe. The plant in Nošovice, Czech Republic, was opened with the objective of delivering the highest quality standards, which helped to pitch i30 at the heart of the competitive European C-segment.

The i30 was soon followed by new models such as i10 and i20, as well as an increasingly diverse range of models that includes the ix20 compact MPV and ix35 SUV – all of which have Europe-focused styling, powertrains and packaging. The arrival of these game-changing cars contributed to Hyundai increasing market share in Europe to a record 2.6% in 2010 and moving total sales up to five million since imports began.

Allan Rushforth, Senior Vice President and COO of Hyundai Motor Europe, commented, "Hitting five million sales is a wonderful achievement for Hyundai, and it marks us out as a major player in what is the world's most competitive car market. But this is just the beginning for the brand. We are planning for further sales growth during 2011, to take us to 3% market share in Europe. And in the longer term we expect the quality and desirability of our cars to help us maintain our momentum and deliver our next five million sales in a much shorter time frame."

Hyundai continues to invest heavily to meet the expectations of European car buyers. Output from the manufacturing plant in the Czech Republic increases this year to 300,000 units, while the European R&D centre in Germany leads the company's work on low-emissions diesel technologies and has produced class-leading results for models including ix20, ix35 and the all-new i40, which will be on sale in the UK in September this year.

Customers also benefit from Hyundai's ground-breaking Five Year Triple Care assurance package – a standard feature on many models that provides a five-year warranty with unlimited mileage; five years' roadside assistance; and five years of vehicle health checks.

Milestones:

1977: First Hyundai imported into Europe
1996: One Hyundai millionth car sold in Europe
2000: Hyundai Motor Europe GmbH established
2004: Opening of R&D and Design Center in Rüsselsheim, Germany
2006: Opening of Hyundai Motor Europe in Offenbach, Germany
2008: Opening of first European Production plant in Nošovice, Czech Republic
2011: Hyundai launches new brand slogan 'New Thinking. New Possibilities.'