QOTD: Is Hyundai Growing Too Fast?

qotd is hyundai growing too fast

A Reuters article on Hyundai’s recent quality problems raises an interesting question. Has the company grown too fast following an unprecedented image makeover?

Reuters quotes a Korean professor of automotive engineering discussing Hyundai’s recent quality issues

“Hyundai has built factories very fast around the globe until recent years, but its quality improvement has failed to keep up with its rapid volume growth,” said Kim Phill-soo, a professor at Department of Automotive Engineering at Daelim University College in Seoul. “The latest recall highlighted loopholes in Hyundai’s quality system.”

The most recent recall, which involves a brake lamp switch, affects 1.9 million vehicles in the United States alone, according to Reuters. There have been other recalls as well, including rusty subframes and self-deploying airbags. Despite these problems, Hyundai has managed to ride a wave of goodwill on the strength of their products and their image turnaround. Hyundai has become an underdog company that people are willing to root for, and the recent fuel economy snafu, that ended up becoming a non-event for many people, is strong evidence of how effective they are at managing their PR affairs.

On the one hand, I have to wonder if the latest recall is a result of the increasing standardization of auto parts. The nature of this phenomenon suggests that when parts fail, the failure can cascade across mass quantities of vehicles, resulting in the mega recalls we’ve seen over the past few years. With the implementation of modular architectures and further standardization, the potential for these mega recalls only increases. Just wait till Volkswagen’s MQB cars suffer their first recall for a look at the “new normal” of recalls will be.

But that shouldn’t discourage us from asking if there may be underlying quality issues at Hyundai. Jack Baruth noted that the Elantra he rented last year looked a little worse for wear compared to other cars of a similar vintage – though notably, the car’s fuel economy did meet his expectations.

Lacking the requisite manufacturing and engineering knowledge, I’ll put this one to the B&B, rather than submitting my theory as a definitive answer. Have at it.

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  • IHateCars IHateCars on Apr 11, 2013

    I still vivdly remember the Ponies and Stellars from my high school days so yeah, they have indeed come a looong way. But it's because of those craptacular cars that I just can't see myself every buying one. Biased, I know....but I could never do it.

    • Onyxtape Onyxtape on Apr 11, 2013

      Same here. Grew up around the time that the Excel and Ponies dominated the laugh tracks of the late night shows. Even though my own father now has a Genesis sedan and raves about it every chance he gets (and I've driven and have positive feelings about it), there's always going to be that hesitation before deciding to trek over to the neighborhood Hyundai dealer.

  • PV_Pathfinder PV_Pathfinder on Apr 11, 2013

    We looked at Hyundai last summer when it was time to replace the Better Half's 2000 Corolla. Specifically the Azera and the Santa Fe. The Azera was nice and seemed like a well built car. Entry level model had plenty of standard features that seemed to be options on other cars. Sun roof, leather, V6 etc. The Santa Fe was also nice, but the center console was a mess (since cleaned up in the 2013). Both cards drove good, but not great. However, we just couldn't pull the trigger because we weren't sure if the new image was all just PR smoke or if they were really trying to move past the image of a cheap import that I remember being associated w/ Honda and Toyota when I was a kid. Fair or not, that's the stigma that I think Hyundai is currently trying to conquer. Ultimately, it was a poorly played, last second hard sell from a local dealer that sealed Hyundai's fate in our book. As a result, we went with an Acura that we absolutely love. Fast forward a few years when it's time to replace my ride, I'd have no problem taking another look at what Hyundai has to offer.

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