August 10, 2005


Hyundai ... seriously: The Sonata's precision mimicry deserves sincere flattery and proves that this company's worth another look. (Dan Neil, August 10, 2005, LA Times)

I confess, I'd taken my eye off Hyundai. I've been a big fan of the Tiberon sport compact and then, well, everything else the company made hovered obscurely in my peripheral vision, especially the previous generations of Sonata, which have seemed as routine as a night watchman's rounds.

Somebody's been feeding the gorilla. In the last decade, Hyundai has grown to the fourth-largest import nameplate in the United States, outselling household names like Lexus and Mazda, and its products have recently been at the top of quality surveys by J.D. Power. Part of the company's sales success, surely, is the mind-boggling 10-year powertrain warranty, which provides budget buyers inestimable peace of mind. It's like an automotive sinecure. I mean, tattoo parlors don't offer a 10-year warranty.

With the new Sonata, the Korean company's march from ignominious thrift to mainstream value is complete. On paper, at least, this thing crushes the competition.

Somewhere in India its successor is starting up.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 10, 2005 9:18 AM

The Sonata is a really nice car, but it's still a copy of a nicer Japanese car. The irony is Hyundais are now being built in the U.S., alongside all that "Japanese" car.

So, yes, anyone can assemble parts. Even Americans.

Posted by: Randall Voth at August 10, 2005 9:48 AM

Only some Americans...

Posted by: Perry at August 10, 2005 11:13 AM

Any American... as long as incompetent executives from Detroit don't screw it up.

Posted by: Chris Durnell at August 10, 2005 11:21 AM

Chris: Save some of that for the UAW.

Posted by: David Cohen at August 10, 2005 11:44 AM

Chris, you mean incompetent union executives, don't you?

Posted by: erp at August 10, 2005 11:54 AM


It's difficult to find anyone connected with the USA auto industry that comes out of it looking good. I credit the industry executives with doing just as much damage as the union executives. It's like asking who damaged the Democratic Party, John Kerry or Howard Dean.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at August 10, 2005 4:06 PM

It's just evolution. Developed countries shouldn't assemble things.

Posted by: oj at August 10, 2005 4:56 PM

Oh, AOG, can't you leave me any of my cherished beliefs? Just as bad? Aieeeee!

Posted by: erp at August 10, 2005 5:49 PM

Anyone can assemble parts, but not everyone can do it well.

Brazil, China, India, and Iran all have home-grown auto companies; none currently export any to the U.S.

In the 70s Detroit had four large American auto companies; now there are two.
Half of those companies fell to the superior skills of foreign bolt-tighteners.

Hyundai may someday fall, but it's likely to be after GM bites the dust.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at August 10, 2005 9:21 PM


Yes, the less developed do it better.

Posted by: oj at August 10, 2005 9:23 PM

The Japanese, Germans, and Swedes are "less developed" than the U.S. and Britain ?

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at August 10, 2005 10:14 PM

They were. Their auto industries are the second wave to die off. The Koreans will be the third.

Posted by: oj at August 10, 2005 10:42 PM

Michael: Here they come.

Posted by: David Cohen at August 11, 2005 7:59 AM

David Cohen:

Yeah, the guy with the U.S. rights to distribute those autos is nuts, although he did make a fortune importing Subarus in the 70s - which he quickly lost.

My guess is that Cherys will be the Yugos of the '00s, although I hope that I'm wrong.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at August 11, 2005 5:12 PM


Completely true, if by "die off" you mean "thriving".

Even the U.S. auto industry could be competitive, if they stopped trying to be all things to all people, and concentrated on what they're really good at, SUVs and pick-'em-up trucks.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at August 11, 2005 5:19 PM

Assembled by non-humans and non-union humans--agreed. If you undevelop the workforce it can work.

Posted by: oj at August 11, 2005 5:35 PM