Mong-Koo Chung is credited with growing Hyundai Motor Group into a leading global automotive group based on his strong leadership and dedication for quality.
Mong-Koo Chung has also contributed to the development of the Korean automotive industry and led it out of the 1997 Asian financial crisis. He led the Group’s global expansion, revived Kia Motors following bankruptcy, and instilled a quality-first approach across the company.
He enhanced Hyundai Motor Group’s research and development capabilities, allowing the Group to develop its own engine lineup, and has been a driving force behind the Group’s leadership in the field of alternative powertrain technologies. Starting out with just Hyundai Motor, the Group now has three different brands – Hyundai, Kia and the Genesis luxury brand.
Chung was born in Gangwon Province of Korea in 1938, the son of Hyundai founder Ju-yung Chung. He earned a bachelor’s degree in industry business administration from Hanyang University and started his industry career as a purchasing manager at Hyundai Motor in 1970. Chung then proceeded to work for several Hyundai Group affiliates, including Hyundai Engineering and Construction, Incheon Steel (renamed Hyundai Steel) and Hyundai Precision Industry.
In 1998, Chung led the acquisition of then bankrupt Kia Motors, and by 1999 had returned the brand to profitability. This quick turnaround helped stabilize the Korean automotive industry and set both Kia and Hyundai up for future success.
In 2000, Chung established Hyundai Motor Group with its operations focused on the automotive industry, encompassing vehicle manufacturing, parts production, material production and logistics.
Chung is known for his passion for quality. “Quality is the absolute benchmark of our product and brand competitiveness,” Chung says, pointing to the importance of producing vehicles that customers can trust at any time. “Prioritizing quality is non-negotiable and sacrosanct as our modus operandi. It is what defines us as a brand and determines the safety and satisfaction of customers. It is our pride and reason for existence.”
In 1999, the company established a Global Quality Situation Room to respond to various problems reported by customers around the globe, in real time. The department’s 24/7, 365 days a year monitoring system ensures issue are resolved immediately. In 2002, to further enhance vehicle quality, the company established a Quality Management Department reporting directly to the Chairman.
Hyundai Motor’s focus on quality paid off in 2019 when the Genesis, Kia and Hyundai brands were ranked 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, respectively, in the J.D. Power Initial Quality Study.
Known for his out-of-the-box thinking, in 1998, Chung launched the “Hyundai Advantage,” billed as “America’s Best Warranty,” to boost U.S. customers’ confidence in Hyundai vehicle quality. All new Hyundai vehicles sold in the U.S. came off the lot with 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain protection. This groundbreaking warranty not only helped grow Hyundai’s sales numbers, but also led to a marked increase in brand awareness.
The company later launched the “Assurance Program” for the U.S. market in the aftermath of the 2008 global financial crisis to alleviate financial burdens of car buyers. Allowing customers who had lost their jobs to return their recently purchased vehicles, Hyundai earned a reputation as a company that truly cares for its customers, allowing the company to increase market share in the U.S. during a period of decreased demand.
Chung saw the growing need to develop alternative powertrains and produce eco-friendly vehicles early. Founded in 2005, the Group’s Environmental Technology Center focuses on the development of battery-electric, hybrid-electric, plug-in hybrid and hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles.
Chung spearheaded the Group’s global expansion. Under his leadership, Hyundai opened a plant in Beijing, China, in 2002, followed by its first U.S. factory in Alabama in 2005. Since then, the Group has expanded its production facilities in countries such as Slovakia, Russia, Brazil, India, the Czech Republic and Mexico.
Chung took the company into the fiercely competitive luxury vehicle segment with Genesis in 2008. Starting out as a luxury sedan within the Hyundai brand, Genesis has been a respected and fast-growing stand-alone brand since 2015.
The brand’s progress was noted as early as 2009, when a Genesis sedan secured the prestigious “North American Car of the Year’” award. In 2019, the Genesis G70 sedan once again earned the honor of receiving the 2019 North American Car of the Year award.
Hyundai Motor Group has transformed into a responsible global citizen. In the U.S., the Group, along with its associated companies, created more than 30,000 jobs through direct employment and more than 72,000 jobs through Hyundai and Kia dealerships.
In 2020, Chung became the first Korean inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame. In October 2020, Euisun Chung, former executive vice chairman was inaugurated as the new Hyundai Motor Group chairman and Mong-Koo Chung was appointed honorary chairman.