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Hyundai chief vows to learn from past

By Byun Hye-jin

Published : June 8, 2023 - 15:42

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Hyundai Motor Group Executive Chair Chung Euisun speaks during the opening ceremony for “Pony, the timeless,” an exhibition honoring its first mass-produced car, the Pony, at Hyundai Motor Studio Seoul in Gangnam on Wednesday. (Hyundai Motor Group) Hyundai Motor Group Executive Chair Chung Euisun speaks during the opening ceremony for “Pony, the timeless,” an exhibition honoring its first mass-produced car, the Pony, at Hyundai Motor Studio Seoul in Gangnam on Wednesday. (Hyundai Motor Group)

Hyundai Motor Group Executive Chair Chung Euisun highlighted the importance of learning from the past to prepare for the rapidly changing mobility industry, at the opening ceremony for an exhibition honoring the carmaker’s first mass-produced car, the Pony.

“With ChatGPT now a buzzword, artificial intelligence and robotics technology are witnessing exponential growth. Under the circumstances, we need to ask what our purpose of existence and future road map are,” said Chung at the inaugural event for the “Pony, the timeless” exhibition held in Seoul on Wednesday. “We have retraced our past, from which we can learn lessons to prepare for the future.”

Stressing that the Pony was the carmaker’s first original model, Chung added that the spirit and legacy of making the Pony have led Hyundai’s monumental journey. As of last year, it became the world’s third-largest auto brand.

Chung Euisun gave credit to his grandfather, Chung Ju-yung, the first chairman and founder of the company, who “predicted that if the company laid the foundation for the nation’s manufacturing sector with the automotive industry, it would be able to excel in cutting-edge technology including (building) airplanes.”

Before the launch of the Pony in 1976 in Korea, Hyundai Motor Group only assembled car parts from Ford UK. Chung Ju-yung, however, pushed to develop an original mass-produced car model, giving birth to the Pony, according to sources.

The hatchback sedan took up 67 percent of the domestic market share in 1982. It then maintained the No. 1 position as the best-selling car here until it was discontinued in 1985.

Along with Chung Euisun and Hyundai Motor Group CEO Chang Jae-hoon, executives and staff who participated in developing the Pony -- including Kim Noe-myeong, former director of the overseas business division, and Lee Su-il, former head of the research center -- joined the opening ceremony.

The exhibition, scheduled to run June 9 to Aug. 6, will show the Pony Coupe Concept, the revived version of the Pony Coupe, the model that was first unveiled at the 1974 Turin Motor Show in Italy.

Last month, it was presented at the Hyundai Reunion event held in Lake Como, Italy, during which Chung implied the possibility of producing the Pony Coupe Concept on a mass scale.

The Pony-inspired N Vision 74 hydrogen hybrid electric vehicle, a test car adopting Hyundai’s high-performance N Brand technology, will be showcased during the event.

The Retrace Series, including a magazine that covers stories on the Hyundai staff and executives who were involved in developing the Pony and customers who previously owned the model, will be displayed at the exhibition as well.

Chung also hinted that Hyundai affiliate Kia might be reviving one of its discontinued models.

“I think Kia is considering (preparing to resurrect) a three-wheeler model or the Brisa, however, it looks like (detailed schedule) will be under wraps,” he said.

From 1973 to 1981, the Brisa came in two models -- a two-door pickup truck and a small-sized sedan. It was Kia’s first rear-wheel-drive commercial vehicle and the first mass-produced model from its manufacturing plant in Gwangmyeong in Gyeonggi Province.