Hyundai Canada, almost 40 years old

Hyundai Canada, soon to be 40 years old


Hyundai Auto Canada, as it was called when it arrived in the country, was founded in the early 80s, arriving here in late summer 1983. In just under a year, the manufacturer will therefore celebrate its 40th anniversary in the country, which may give rise to commemorative editions of certain models. That said, building a reputation was no easy task for this manufacturer. How persistence is the master of the art of success.

Last week, I was testing the impressive Genesis G90, from Hyundai's luxury brand. A car that came to prove to me that the Korean manufacturer no longer had to be ashamed of the sacrosanct German cars. I also spoke with Marilou, Hyundai's new ambassador, who expressed her enthusiasm for her next car, the Ioniq 6. I was barely six years old.

Already a car enthusiast at the time, I leafed through the Guide de l'autoby studying the statistics of each of the cars by heart! I knew the brands and models, some specifications on the engines, without necessarily understanding their meaning. One day in the fall of 1983, my father – who had absolutely no interest in the subject – arrived at home with a new car. His second, when he was 33 years old. It was a Pony. And not just any. The first delivered to Cloginor in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, while the premises were located in Vieux-Saint-Jean (where a company dedicated to cinema vehicles is located today). 

My father had come to see this new car dealership which opened the same day. His old Datsun showing some signs of age, he decided to go in and came out immediately with a contract in hand. He had just purchased the first Pony in the dealership, and according to the seller, the first in Quebec (unverifiable fact!).

It was a 1400 GL model (1.4 liter engine) with manual choke, as well as the gearbox. A nicely turned car that, at $6,500, was a bargain even against the Chevette. Months passed and, on the roads, the Pony multiplied at breakneck speed. Besides, my immediate neighbors owned two Ponys, which my babysitter also drove. Later, I liked to claim that my father had been a bad influence on our neighborhood!

The following year, 1984, the Pony was starting to get “tight”. because my sister and I had grown up. My father didn't care, but the little Pony wasn't the most practical. Then, during an appointment for the maintenance of the latter, my father saw the Stellar. A mid-size sedan with enticing lines, which, from certain angles, could “maybe” look a bit like an Audi 5000. 

Designed by Giugiaro just like the Pony, this sedan fell into his eye, so much so that he exchanged his Pony for the Stellar. A 74 horsepower automatic transmission powered car, so slow it was hard to spin the wheels even in the snow. But she was beautiful. So beautiful that my uncle at the sight of this model was also going to fall in love with him, however obtaining an Executive version, much more luxurious!

The Stellar, paid for $10,500 in 1985, was going last him five years. Because although he had no major mechanical problems, the bodywork was literally going to break down on its own. Thus, when he traded it in 1990 at a Dodge dealership where he was going to buy his fourth car, the latter only offered him $500. Imagine, 95% depreciation in five years!

The Stellar will obviously have been his last Hyundai. In 1985, the manufacturer managed to sell about 80,000 of them in the country, which at the time represented nearly 10% of the Canadian automobile market! And forty years later, even with more than 130,000 vehicles sold, Hyundai Canada still does not reach this market share, which is approximately 8%. Certainly, the situation is very different and the competition is greater, but this proves that the arrival of Hyundai in the country will initially have been greeted by a monster success that could never have been imagined by the brand's strategists.

In fact, the sales projections for the 1984 Pony were around 5,000 units, five times less than what was going to be sold. Because at that time, and unlike the Japanese brands then struggling with quotas, Hyundai was able to deliver everything we ordered. Today, it's very different: you have to wait two years for a simple Ioniq 5…