SEOUL, Korea, Oct. 14, 2003 -Hyundai Motor Co. has drawn up a new mid- and long-term motorsport development program that will see an extensive reorganization and strengthening of its commitment to the World Rally Championship.
“We’re competitors at heart and rallying has always been an integral part of our plans to grow the Hyundai brand,” said Global Marketing and Communications Senior Executive Vice President Harry Choi.
As part of the reorganization, the company will establish a new World Rally Team Headquarters at the Design and Technical Center in Russelsheim, Germany and will begin aggressive recruitment of top talent to fortify the team’s engineering capabilities. A new executive will be appointed to oversee the overhaul of the motorsport program.
Following the conclusion of the 2003 WRC season, Hyundai will pull out of the 2004~ 2005 seasons to concentrate on the development of its all-new Theta engine and new 3-door hatchback codenamed RC in preparation for a comeback in second half of the 2006 season and the return to a full season of rallying in 2007.
“This withdrawal is temporary but absolutely mandatory in order for us to reorganize and rethink our entire approach. But we will be back in fighting form with a completely new engine and car,” said Senior Executive Vice President Choi.
The hiatus will be used to intensify development work on the new powertrain and mobilize additional resources to revitalize the WRC program.
Hyundai Motor has learned a lot from its WRC experience and has come to realize the limitations of a measured, cautious approach which is only normal for a newcomer. But when Hyundai returns to WRC competition, it will be on a much more solid technological and financial footing.
Motorsport has been an effective tool for raising Hyundai’s brand awareness and promoting the quality of its products. But if the company is to expand its product portfolio to include performance cars, winning on the race track is absolutely vital to the marketing success of those future products.
Without winning, Hyundai can never achieve the performance dimension and the emotional qualities that management hopes to add to the Hyundai brand. And to win, Hyundai must raise the stakes and recruit the best talent.
Late this year, the company will begin recruitment of new staff with the aim of attracting top development engineers to its new team headquarters in Russelsheim. Naturally, the company will scout the finest drivers to assist in the development and testing with the goal of putting them on the podium.
Hyundai’s rally support team, currently based at the Namyang R&D Center in Korea, will also relocate to Russelsheim as part of the effort to integrate all motorsport development activities in-house. The new team headquarters in Germany will avail itself of Europe’s excellent motorsport infrastructure and will provide a solid base to reposition Hyundai as a top competitor.
The headquarters will also support Kia Motors Corp.’s motorsport activities as well. The Hyundai affiliate has a long history of participation in the Paris-Dakar Rally and is positioning itself for a return to the event in the near future.
The Hyundai · Kia European Design and Technical Center is located in Russelsheim, outside of Frankfurt. This new Euro 50 million complex opened in July 2003 and is also home to Hyundai’s European marketing and sales headquarters.
Established in 1967, Hyundai Motor Co. has grown into the Hyundai Automotive Group which includes Kia Motors Corp. and over two dozen auto-related subsidiaries and affiliates. Employing nearly 50,000 people worldwide, Hyundai Motor posted US$21.94 billion in sales in 2002. Hyundai motor vehicles are sold in 166 countries through 4,504 dealerships and showrooms. Further information about Hyundai Motor Co. and its products is available on the Internet at http://www.hyundai-motor.com
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