It may be hard to believe that 47 years has been already passed since the
Sibal car broke open the new era of Korea's automobile history.
The first korean automobile called "Sibal" has made its first appearance on
August of 1955. A Korean auto mechanic, Mr. Choi, Mu-seong, and three of his
brothers modified US Army Jeep and mounted engines by themselves to manufacture
this historic model.
Saenara Automobile, the first automobile company in Korea equipped with
modern assembly facilities, was established after the Automobile Industry
Promotion Policy was announced by the government in 1962. Soon after, several
other automobile companies were also founded to pave a way to establish a Korean
automobile industry. However, they were still in the stage of simply assembling
the parts imported from overseas companies.
At last, we saw the first Korean-brand automobile when Hyundai Motor co.
built "Pony" model in 1975. This model played a major role in opening a new era
where each individual can enjoy his.her own vehicle, and contributed much to the
building of strong foundation for Korean economical development. However, Korean
automobile industry suffered greatly from the second oil crisis and the
consequential local economic slump. As a result, the government took prompt
action to get over this difficult situation by implementing automobile industry
rationalization policy in 1982 to prevent unprofitable excessive competitions
between four domestic automakers. With these efforts, the situation was slowly
taking turn to the rebuilding of the industry.
Localization of auto parts was the major concern during 1970's, and
developing mass-production system became the issue during 1980's. Foundation for
the export-oriented industry production system became the issue during 1980's.
Foundation for the export-oriented industry was built when the "Excel" model
entered into US market in 1986.
When the exportations to overseas markets were slowed down, the industry
took this opportunity to concentrate more on the growth of domestic automobile
market with the emerging era of automobile popularization. Despite its relatively
short automobile history of around 40 years, the Korean automobile industry
ranked 5th in the production volume and 6th in the export volume. Now, Korea
definitely became one of the advanced automobile countries both in nameand reality.
In 1990's, the industry manufactured numerous self developed in-house models,
which demonstrated its highly competitive designs, preformance and technologies.
Korea is heading towards the world-leading manufacturer of automobiles.
We expect the Korea will soon acquire its reputation as the true leader in
the worldwide automobile industries.