22 August 2011

The Koreans have come a long way

A look back on how much Korean cars have progressed over time. They’re not really a laughing matter now, so pay attention.

KOREAN cars used to be something of a joke. As recent as five years ago, not many would have considered going to look at for their next car at a Kia or Hyundai showroom. That’s if they’ve been used to owning cars from the established competition (e.g. Ford, Vauxhall, Peugeot, Honda, Volkswagen, etc). That also applies to more image-conscious drivers.

Many Korean cars in the past have been likened to as disposable domestic appliances, like a fridge or a washing machine. They were made for people who wanted a plain and simple, no-nonsense car. Who couldn’t care about cars, or what others thought about the cars they were seen driving in.

If you like aesthetics or character in a car, you wouldn’t have hesitated to dismiss an old Korean motor like a Hyundai Accent or a Kia Pride. If you rate it as a package than how it looked or made you feel. Them cars from the Far East come out top trumps. What they lacked in sparkle or character, it more than made up for that in other areas.

What made Korean cars a hit with their owners was that they were genuinely satisfying cars to own. Looking at the JD Power surveys can tell you the story itself. The cars were competent, well equipped and above all else, cheap. The dealers have been highly rated. Offering consumers with generous longer than average warranties, being 5 or more years and up to 100,000 miles on brand new cars.

Despite the Korean cars being competent and offering decent value for money. Over time, the likes of Kia and Hyundai have been on learning curves on making cars that people want prior to what people need. By injecting some style and quality into their cars. Like the Hyundai Coupe and the Kia Cee'd for example.

Besides working hard on making more desirable cars. Kia and Hyundai have been busy with building their own distinct identities. For example, Kia have hired Audi's former chief designer, Peter Schreyer (best known for the Audi TT) to pen their cars. They have adopted a trademark grille. Of which he has done in their range of cars such as the Cee'd, Soul and the new Picanto.

Also, more savvy and sophisticated marketing, advertising and PR has helped boost their popularity and strengthen the brands. As a result, Kia and Hyundai are the world's fastest growing car companies. With global sales of their cars increasing every year.

Like Japanese cars in the past once being a subject to ridicule. These issues were ironed out from building supremely reliable cars. But they've also learnt to build more interesting and good looking cars along the way. With cars like the current Honda Civic, the Nissan Juke and the Mazda MX-5.

Japanese manufacturers like Toyota, Honda and Nissan have grown to become a global force. In a similar vein, this is what the Koreans are going through what their Far Eastern neighbours have done.  By challenging the perceptions that preceded them. Now is the time to take Korean cars seriously.

1 comment:

  1. KiaCee'dOwner6 January 2012 at 21:26

    I own a Kia C'eed and it's a decent car. People I know have been rude (or even laughed) about me owning a Korean car but I have the last laugh as they complain about their cars going wrong. Having a 7 year warranty gives me a real piece of mind.


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