[THE INVESTOR] Unlike large-scale celebrations in the past, Hyundai Motor Group is having a quiet 50th anniversary on Dec. 29.
A decade ago, Hyundai celebrated its 40th anniversary by creating a unique logo and held diverse sports and cultural events for customers. This year, however, there was no real fanfare for either clients or employees, who took a day off.
“We are not holding any events to mark our 50th anniversary,” a Hyundai Motor spokesperson told The Investor.
Industry watchers say that Hyundai’s decision to go low-key is mainly due to mounting internal and external problems, such as sluggish global sales and failure of wage talks with the labor union.
This year, Hyundai sold 664,268 cars in China as of November, down 33.3 percent compared with the same period in 2016. The decline was mainly due to the diplomatic tensions between Beijing and Seoul over the THAAD missile system. The situation in US was not much different. As of November, the company sold 621,961 units, a decline of 12.7 percent on-year.
On the regulation side, the Transport Ministry has ordered Hyundai to recall 510,265 units of Sonata NF and 405,018 units of Grandeur TG sedans for faulty anti-lock braking system and vehicle dynamic control.
Furthermore, Hyundai is also continuing to struggle with labor relations. The carmaker recently failed to reach an agreement concerning wage issues with the labor union before the year-end for the first time in its history, even after 41 rounds of negotiations. The union has decided to stage protests from Jan 3.
“If the conflict with the labor union continues, Hyundai might miss the right timing and lose competitiveness in the global market,” said Dealim University automotive professor Kim Pil-soo.
The challenges he said include developing electric cars and autonomous cars and entering new markets to enhance productivity.
Hyundai’s answer this year seemed to be to strengthen its research and development division. The overall number of employees given promotions fell 10 percent during the annual reshuffle, but among the 310 employees who did receive promotions, 137 were in the R&D department accounting for 44.2 percent. “This is so we can respond quickly to external changes and take up a leadership position in the future automobile industry,” a Hyundai official said.
By Song Seung-hyun (firstname.lastname@example.org)