Autocar has named Hyundai-Kia as its Automotive Manufacturer of the Year at its annual award ceremony at the Horticultural Halls in Westminster London.
Citing the Korean giant's 'mind-blowing' ambition, editor Chas Hallet presented the title to Mr Nam-Yong Kim, President of Hyundai-Kia's European Research and Development Centre in Germany.
Hallett commented: "When the irrepressible Hyundai-Kia group started talking, just a few years ago, about wanting to become the world's fifth largest car company behind Toyota, GM, Ford and Audi-VW, many of us were sceptical.
"Then the Korean group got serious. They hatched a plan to assemble a European design and engineering team to conceive a range of models for Europe. Boldly, they challenged the VW Golf and Ford Focus head on, building cars that looked as good and worked as well - and offering them with a far longer warranty, just for good measure. They began to acquire a reputation as the Eastern marques that would bring forth bold design concepts, much as Citroen has been doing in Europe, and they built separate factories for Hyundai and Kia in lower-cost Eastern Europe, servicing both operations from handily placed engine and gearbox plants," he added.
The product of a merger in 1998, Hyundai-Kia currently dominate the Korean domestic car market with an 80 per cent share and this year became the world's fifth largest car-maker according to Automotive News in the US.
With plants in North America, China, Europe and other locations including Russia, the Middle East and South East Asia Hyundai-Kia have climbed into the top ranks of the world's biggest car companies in less than 50 years. Both companies began making automobiles in the 1960s and didn't start exporting their products until the 1980s.
Kia currently builds its cee'd family and Sportage SUV models at its state-of-the-art factory in Zilina in the Slovak Republic and construction of a plant in Georgia, US is nearing completion. Hyundai has just opened its newest plant in the Czech Republic where production of the i30 model is already underway.
President Nam-Yong Kim commented: "This recognition of the efforts of everyone within Hyundai and Kia is a great honour, coming from such a renowned publication as Autocar. This is a significant recognition of the determination of our Chairman, Mr Mong-Koo Chung and all of our people to firmly put the Korean automotive industry on the global map.
"This award will only encourage us to re-double our efforts to continue our development and if Chas Hallet thinks our ambition is 'mind-blowing', then all I can say is 'He hasn't seen anything yet!'." he added.
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