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FOUNDED: 1967 (Seoul, South Korea)

FOUNDER(S): Chung Ju-Yung

YEARS OF OPERATION: 1967–present

BEST-KNOWN MODELS: Santa Fe, Accent, Tucson, Coupe, i10

This Seoul-based company didn’t start making cars until 1967. Chung Ju-Yung started the Hyundai Motor Company to build the Cortina in Korea, in association with Ford. In the 1970s Chung hired former Austin Morris boss George Turnbull to lead the development of the first Hyundai car. In 1975 Hyundai produced South Korea’s first mass-produced vehicle, the Hyundai Pony. A combination of great value and well-built cars quickly propelled the company into the top division of global automotive manufacturers, currently operating in more than 180 countries.

Hyundai’s badge looks like a simple “H,” the initial letter of the company name. At a casual glance, it seems a little similar to the Honda logo (see here), and you might think a designer dreamed it up without much consideration. But, of course, multinational motor manufacturers apply much more sophisticated thought to the development of their logos.

Hyundai is a Korean word meaning “modernity.” The hidden thought behind the apparently simple logo is that the stylized “H” sits within an oval, which symbolizes Hyundai as a worldwide company. Moreover, the letter is slanted to the right, suggesting progressive forward motion. Hyundai also suggests that the shape of the “H” implies two people shaking hands. One is a satisfied customer, while the other is, of course, a Hyundai salesman.

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