While Toyota is trying to convince the American public that they’re as American as losing at hockey Wal-Mart, Hyundai is pulling the same stunt over at the other side of the pond. Forbes reports that Hyundai wants to become a card carrying member of the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA).
Founded in 1991, the snooty Association des Constructeurs Européens d’Automobiles represents “the interests of the fifteen European car, truck and bus manufacturers at EU level,” as the ACEA website says. And they take the “European” seriously when a new member applies. Theoretically, having a plant that makes entire cars in Europe suffices. But then, why are only Ford, GM and Toyota members? Ford and GM had been in Europe longer than Volkswagen. Toyota had to apply several times, and invest €6b in Europe, until they were finally admitted in 2007.
“We want to demonstrate our European credentials,” said Allan Rushforth, Vice President of Hyundai Europe. Hyundai thinks they qualify with their plants in Slovakia and the Czech Republic. An ACEA spokesperson, Sigrid de Vries said that Hyundai’s application would be considered but not before June – that’s when the new member committee meets.
Not everyone will welcome the South Koreans with open arms. European carmakers aren’t exactly happy at the European Union’s planned free trade agreement with South Korea. ACEA is worried the deal could lead to a flood of low-cost cars assembled in South Korea from cheaper parts from other parts of Asia, i.e. China. The deal needs EU government and European Parliament backing, and the ACEA will bring its lobbying might to bear against it. A Korean nose under the tent would be a bit distracting – non?