Hyundai Motor Group is the umbrella for South Korea's two biggest car brands, Hyundai and Kia. Emulating the success of Japanese rival Toyota, Korea's Hyundai secured a position as Asia's second largest auto manufacturer in 2009, and is currently the global #5. It is the most successful offshoot from the former Hyundai industrial conglomerate, which split itself up into separate businesses in 2003, though innumerable cross-shareholdings remain between all the various Hyundai-branded subsidiaries. Each business has enjoyed very different degrees of success since then. The car operations reported dramatic and impressive growth during the 2000s, while the remaining parts of the group wrestled with substantial debts and declining performance. Yet Hyundai Motors too has seen its previously meteoric growth slow dramatically. Performance, especially in South Korea, has been dented by a succession of strikes by the country's notoriously outspoken labour unions. Hyundai workers called walkouts in five consecutive years from 2011 to 2016.
The group was also slower than rivals to shift its primary focus away from its traditional mainstay of sedan cars to the SUVs which buyers now demand in most important markets. Hyundai and Kia operate independently of one another but are both controlled and run by the Chung family. Chung Mong-Koo, son of the group's original founder, is chairman and controlling shareholder. Automobiles and auto parts and components represent by far the biggest business within the wider Hyundai empire, accounting for almost two thirds of combined revenues of approx $235bn. Other businesses are involved in construction, engineering, steel manufacturing, financial services, real estate and hotels. The group also houses its own advertising and marketing services division, Innocean Worldwide.
Combined registrations for Hyundai Motor Group were 7.4m vehicles in 2018. Hyundai is the bigger of the two brands, positioned as a "modern premium" brand somewhere between mass-market Ford or Chevrolet and lower end luxury models produced by BMW or Audi. Lee Won-hee is CEO. Global sales peaked at almost 5.0m vehicles in 2015, but declined sharply over the next two years, before making a modest recovery in 2018 to 4.5m units. Hyundai is the clear leader in its domestic market with sales of 721k units, equivalent to almost 37% market share. However, China is its biggest market overall at 803k units. Hyundai is the #10 selling brand there. The US is the brand's third largest territory at 668k units in 2018. The Elantra sedan was the company's top-seller at 621.2k registrations, followed by the Tucson SUV at 553.5k. The company also has its own luxury division, Genesis, equivalent to Toyota's Lexus or Nissan's Infiniti, but much smaller in terms of sales. Hyundai company revenues were approx $88.0bn in 2018, but profits fell sharply to $1.5bn. Hyundai has been a sponsor of FIFA football tournaments, including the World Cup, since 1999 and was joined by Kia from 2006. The partnership currently runs to at least 2022. The group also supports UEFA football tournaments in Europe, ICC cricket, FIS ski jumping, PGA golf and, since 2015, the US NFL.
Capsule checked 7th November 2019
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