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How Hyundai Evolved To Make Cars That Match The Looks And Performance Of Their German Rivals – HotCars

by Nov 3, 2022Blog0 comments

Hyundai is no longer the “copycat” maker and has found its voice among its rivals, eyeing a huge segment of the future electric vehicle market.
Hyundai is one of the largest automakers in the world, and offers many of the same specifications and luxury creature comforts as rivals, with a more manageable price tag. Over the years, the company has evolved to become a household name through persistence and innovation. Hyundai, once known as a “copycat” company that mimicked the successful vehicles of other makers with already-known acclaim, shed that label and overcame that reputation to find their own unique style.
Through years of dedication to beating its rivals, not only has Hyundai developed some amazingly popular rides and won some prestigious awards, but it has also shown that it has no plans for stopping anytime soon. The company plans to continue its “N” line into the EV world and develop newer, better iterations of existing and popular models such as the Ioniq.
Let’s take a closer look at how Hyundai evolved to surpass German rivals in both looks and performance.
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Hyundai began production in 1967 with their first model, the Cortina, which was a collaborative effort with the Ford Motor Company. After those humble beginnings, the company set out to create a name for itself as an independent business creating high-quality vehicles for South Korean drivers. Several British executives and engineers from the world of automotive creation came in to help get the endeavor off the ground.
1976 saw the release of Hyundai’s first offering as an independent maker – the Pony. Eventually, the first mass-produced car of South Korea became available to international drivers as well. It even became one of the best-selling cars in Canada, despite not yet selling in American markets.
Although the expansion of their business saw a spike in recognition for the Hyundai brand, it also presented some challenges that followed the maker for a while, including quality control problems. Throughout the '80s, Hyundai focused strongly on growth into international markets and on meeting the expectations of those new markets (including strict emission standards for the United States).
In 1986, they were finally able to break into the American market with the “Excel” iteration of the existing Pony. Over the years, a major reputation issue started to arise after Hyundai introduced itself to the US market – they seemed to take many design cues from other vehicles already in production. The “Pony” looked remarkably like an offering from Honda and even the upscale sub-brand, Genesis, seemed to be taking elements from others as the Hyundai Genesis Coupe looked scarily similar to the Infiniti G37 Coupe.
After many years following this “copycat” trend with models such as the 2020 Hyundai Palisade looking remarkably like the 2019 Cadillac Escalade and the Hyundai Sonata Premium looking like a twin of the Kia Optima GT, Hyundai is seemingly stepping away from the practice. In 2021, the company announced that it would now be focusing on electric powertrains. They have also more localized their design team, and the success of their Ioniq line has shown that they are ready to continue their evolution.
Hyundai has already begun to see some sweet successes from their independence as the Ioniq 5 won two German Auto Bild comparison tests and ultimately became the German Car of the Year for 2022, first in the “New Energy” category, then later as the overall winner. Although it still has some climbing to do to reach the bestseller list, the awards show that Hyundai can beat out German rivals such as Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Audi, and BMW.
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While sales of EVs continue to rise, Hyundai seems to have a great plan for the future. Their current goals include the desire to dominate the market for electric vehicles by 2025. The company hopes to have the most extensive line of EVs on the market by the end of 2025. Although successful with the Ioniq, the company will have to push to meet that goal as they only offer two full EVs at this time (the Ioniq and Kona Electric), although they do have several hybrids, including the Tucson.
Hyundai further shared that they will be focusing on taking their entire line to electric in major global markets by 2040, a goal that will place them ahead of the game if they can achieve it. Many of their German rivals have goals in these arenas as well. Volkswagen, for instance, is striving for 25 new EV models by 2030, while BMW is reaching for at least one fully EV model in all key segments starting in 2023. Although it could be a close race, the desirability generated by the Ioniq may see Hyundai to the lead.
Hyundai has already generated a ton of hype surrounding the release of the newest model year of the Ioniq, the Ioniq 6. Reviews of the car have been extremely positive as well, and it is likely that the Ioniq 6 will find success in a broad range of markets, including those previously dominated by Hyundai’s German rivals. Taking it a step further, the Ioniq 6 sees the reveal of Hyundai’s new logo, a past point of contention that many thought looked a bit too much like Honda’s.
With all the updates and changes to the course of action that Hyundai has taken as well as the astounding success of the Ioniq 5 in international markets, the company has shown that they have the chops to take on their German rivals. If they keep up the momentum, it is realistic to say that they could potentially advance into the top three (currently in fifth) of the best-selling EVs in German markets.
Nikia Hunt inherited her love of cars from her dad as she grew up watching him work in his garage on everything from classics to diesel trucks. Currently a huge fan of American muscle and off-road-ready vehicles and with an acute interest in the future in EVs, Nikia splits her time between writing for HotCars and teaching high school language arts. Nikia has many contributive works in several creative writing publications and holds a Master’s degree in English with emphasis in Creative Writing from the University of Nebraska at Kearney.