It takes a lot to make an automotive brand popular and sustain its popularity for many years. Sure, new automakers like Tesla can seemingly make waves thanks to new technology and eccentric CEOs. But if you’re planning to offer products with a range of powertrains, and for a range of consumers, then it takes the right type of product planning, money, and most importantly, patience to get it right. And while a brand like Hyundai took the better part of three decades to cement itself as a household name, it’s safe to say that its patience and persistence were key components to the brand’s success. But why is Hyundai so popular?

Changing Hyundai’s brand image didn’t happen overnight

The Hyundai brand was initially an engineering and construction company that was founded back in 1947. But the Hyundai Motor Company eventually started its life in the U.S. in 1986 with the introduction of the Hyundai Excel, a small two-door hatchback that was actually based on the Mitsubishi Mirage, and then went on to produce the Sonata sedan. And while the cars that they produced were easily dismissed as being cheap or even copies of other cars, time showed that the Korean brand could eventually come into its own.

In 1991, the brand gained its technological independence by manufacturing its own engines and transmissions while continuing to advance its car designs. However, this is when Hyundai started to develop a reputation for producing poor-quality cars during this time, which is why they started offering their 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. And through the rest of the 90s, the brand continued to expand globally and revamped its products to keep up with the likes of Honda and Toyota. After the turn of the century, Hyundai started to develop a much better image worldwide and the U.S. thanks to its unique product lineup and the value that it brought to the market.

1989 Hyundai Excel | Wikipedia

Why is Hyundai more well-received today?

While it did take a couple of decades for the Hyundai to become a more formidable player in the import car market, they took the time to focus on making better products while providing the same type of value that the brand was originally known for. While we can say that the Hyundai brand is still known for making “cheap” cars, the truth is that they’re essentially offering the same types of cars with the same features as the more expensive, well-known Japanese brands, but at a more affordable price.

We like to think of it as buying the “generic brand” medicine over the name-brand stuff, although, Hyundai is much more than “generic.” Instead of merely copying other brands, Hyundai once again came into its own by creating unique designs like those found on the 2009 Hyundai Sonata and Elantra, to eventually creating its own brand spinoff in the form of the Genesis luxury brand.

And while Hyundai still might not fully have the attention of U.S. population as being a trustworthy nameplate like Honda or Toyota, they continue to make headway into the market via hybrid and electric car offerings, as well as unique advances in design and technology as found on the currently popular Hyundai Palisade and forthcoming 2021 Elantra. The continuation of their legendary warranty helps too.

2020 Hyundai Palisade
2020 Hyundai Palisade | Hyundai

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What will the future look like for Hyundai?

Hyundai sold over 680,000 units in the U.S. for 2019 and is currently showing no signs of slowing down for this year. For example, while other automakers took a more conservative approach to weather the coronavirus pandemic earlier this year, Hyundai took the opposite approach and made sure its dealers were well-stocked with inventory and provided stellar financing rates and terms in order to continue to drive more demand, according to CarBuzz.

It’s strategies like these, as well as calculated planning and research for future products, that will likely keep Hyundai afloat in the car categories that they have a hand in. However, if they keep going at this rate, with enough persistence and patience, there’s no telling how well they could end up doing in the future.