Hyundai, Kia Overtake Japanese Automakers In Car Quality
Very few people could have predicted that Hyundai and Kia would ever have surpassed their Japanese rivals in quality, but they have done just that, and there are 3 reasons for their success.
The news that they had overtook the Japanese came last week with the release of the J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Survey.
Porsche took the top spot, with Kia in second. Hyundai came in 4th place, just behind Jaguar.
While this may come as a surprise to those who don’t really follow the automotive industry, it certainly wasn’t a shock to those in the know.
The rise of the Koreans has been steady for years now, and it really was only a matter of time before they overtook the Japanese and the Germans.
Like we said at the start, there are three major factors that helped Hyundai and Kia climb above their Japanese competitors.
The first, and perhaps most important factor, was a total commitment to quality. Hyundai was well aware that their vehicles were not viewed in a particularly great light, which was why they decided to put quality first back in 1998.
Don Southerton is a specialist in Korean culture who is based in the US. He has served as a consultant to Hyundai and Kia, and has seen first-hand how they have stayed committed to the path that they set out to follow all those years ago.
He spoke about the steps that were taken prior to the release of a new model Sonata made in Alabama. The Sonata is now a huge hit, and that happened because they built and pulled apart that model countless times until they were sure they had found every potential problem or issue.
The first car to really become known in the US was the Hyundai Excel. It was a ridiculously cheap model that established the brand as a maker of flimsy, sub-standard automobiles. Recalls and complaints piled up, leading Hyundai to eventually deliver a 10-year, 100,000 mile warranty, which no other automaker comes close to matching.
Southerton explained that the Korean business model back in the early 90’s was to sell as many units as possible. It wasn’t until Korean company Samsung started to focus on quality later in that decade that things began to change.
Another key element in the success of Hyundai can be attributed to the hiring of Chung Moong-koo as the chief executive.
He was the son of a peasant farmer, and he spent his early years working on US Army trucks.
His rise to the top was completed in 2000. He is a highly respected individual whose ideas and orders are quickly obeyed and carried out to the letter. What helped the company improve even further, though, was their ability to listen to criticism and suggestions and make changes based on that feedback.
The third and final factor in the success of Hyundai and Kia came with the recognition that their designs were not particularly memorable.
In 2006, Hyundai listened to criticism from US reviewers concerning the “weird” design of their vehicles. They scored a major coup by hiring former Audi designer Peter Schreyer who was best known for his work on the Audi TT sports coupe.
Under his watchful eye, Kia delivered the iconic Kia Soul, as well as a host of other great looking cars. Another former Audi designer, Luc Donckerwolke has been chosen to succeed Schreyer when he retires in two years.