The car manufacturing arm of Hyundai grew out of the Hyundai Engineering and Construction Company, which was founded by Chung Ju-yung in 1947.
In 1967 Chung, along with his brother Se-jung, formed the Hyundai Motor Company. At this stage Hyundai cars were not being produced. Instead the new company had an overseas assembler agreement with Ford. The first car produced by Hyundai was the Ford Cortina, as the Korean company assembled Cortina and Granada models under licence for the home market between 1968 and 1976. The deal with Ford gave the company valuable experience, but even when it eventually decided to produce its own Hyundai cars foreign expertise was still required.
The Hyundai Pony, launched in 1975, was styled by Italdesign's Giorgio Giugiaro, while Japanese technology provided by Mitsubishi was used for the vehicle's powertrain. The Pony saw Hyundai car sales success in South America, Canada, North Africa, Europe and the United Kingdom. Production of the Pony was to continue until 1990.
Another success for Hyundai was the Excel, though in parts of Europe it was branded as a Pony. Unlike the Pony, Hyundai were able to export the Excel to the United States, beginning in 1986. The Pony had failed to meet the country's strict emission laws, but Excel sales in, its first year in the American market, hit almost 169,000. The model was also sold in Australia and the United Kingdom.
In the 1990s Hyundai took steps to establish itself as major world brand. In 1996 it constructed a factory in southern India and made a major investment in design, research and manufacturing.
Nearly new Hyundai cars, such as the Tucson Estate and Elantra Saloon continue to be popular. However its greatest success was the Pony, which enabled the Korean company to become a major name in car manufacturing in its own right.