As with all automakers at one time or another, Hyundai has fallen on hard times recently. In a post from November 2018, Reuters detailed Hyundai’s business slump in China, where it had formerly been doing well.
In recent years, the company has had to issue recalls, deal with a whistle-blower, and try to regain customers' trust again. While the automaker continues to remain a major force in the industry today, they have some work to do in cleaning up their act.
In the following, we’ll be looking at this major automaker along with many of their controversies, scandals, and PR nightmares they'd rather keep the public in the dark about.
15 Complaints Across The Country Over Engine Problems
According to The Boston Globe in a report back in April 2019, there were a high number of complaints across the country over fire-related engine problems involving Hyundai vehicles. The report goes on to note that this particular instance affected Veloster models, which is the company’s sporty hatchback offering.
14 Issued A Recall Over Engine Fire Risk
As a result of customers experiencing potentially dangerous engine problems, Hyundai took action by issuing a recall. The Boston Globe reports that in April 2019, they issued a recall for 20,000 Veloster vehicles. However, the automaker had already previously issued recalls related to the same engine problems for vehicles since 2015.
13 At First They Did Not Include All Vehicles In The Recall
While Hyundai has issued recalls for its vehicles' engines problems, it appears that not every model made it in the initial recall. In a story by CBC, one family (pictured here) experienced engine issues with their 2012 Hyundai Tucson – the company’s compact SUV – though no recalls for the vehicle had existed yet at that time.
12 Cargo Ship Thought To Be Carrying Hyundai Vehicles Capsized
A cargo ship transporting new cars near the state of Georgia capsized. In an initial report by Reuters, the ship carried Hyundai and Kia vehicles. Yet later, as per Car and Driver, a Hyundai spokesperson said, “There are no Hyundai branded vehicles on the ship," raising some eyebrows in the process. At least the Coast Guard managed to rescue everyone on board.
11 Under Investigation By NHTSA
When the NHTSA starts looking into automakers, it’s not exactly a good a sign. That's the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which places drivers and their safety at the top of their agenda.
In The Boston Globe’s report from April 2019, the NHTSA was investigating Hyundai for its possible delayed response time in fixing potentially problematic vehicles.
10 Possible Vehicle Defect Traced Back To Change In Factory Procedure
There’s a possible theory on why the engine-fire related issues happened in Hyundai vehicles. According John Foy & Associates, the automaker’s Alabama factory changed its deburring process in 2012, which is a way of cleaning up the crankshaft of debris. This change in procedure may have resulted in engines catching on fire or simply failing outright.
9 The Way Hyundai Handled The Engine Defect
While Hyundai finally issued a recall for its faulty engines, many think they dropped the ball leading up to it. John Foy & Associates reports that before the automaker issued a recall, many customers had to spend money trying to fix their Sonatas after the automaker denied their warranty claims –and that's money down the drain.
8 Misleading About Their Vehicles’ MPG
At the end of the day, automakers want to sell their vehicles to consumers and make them as appealing as possible. Yet Hyundai may have gone a little too far when they advertised their MPG ratings better than they were. According to The Los Angeles Times, the EPA caught wind of it while performing an audit back in 2012.
7 Penalized For Exaggerating Fuel Economy Claims
In an attempt to make their vehicles’ fuel economy out to be better than it was, the EPA penalized Hyundai. In a report by The Los Angeles Times in November 2014, Hyundai and its sister company Kia agreed to pay $350 million over it. The EPA wasn’t messing around when they found this out, and Hyundai ultimately had to pay the price.
6 Blamed Its Wrong Fuel Economy Claims On “Procedural Errors”
When a kid gets caught doing something they shouldn't, it’s not very likely they’ll fess up to it. While Hyundai ultimately paid a fine for exaggerating fuel economy claims, they still offered what kind of appears as an excuse. The Los Angeles Times reports they blamed the wrong numbers on “procedural errors.”
5 Whistleblower Claims They Didn’t Take Enough Safety Measures Regarding Engine Problems
In a report by The Japan Times, an employee at Hyundai has come forward to shed light on some practices he witnessed while working there. Kim Gwang-ho claims that Hyundai wasn’t doing all it could when it came to safety regarding its faulty engines, making him out to be something of a whistleblower.
4 Whistleblower Claims Hyundai Was Aware Of How Widespread Engine Problem Was
The whistleblower to emerge out of Hyundai has made some big claims against the automaker. In a report by The Japan Times, automotive engineer Kim Gwang-ho said that Hyundai was aware of how widespread the engine issue was but realized it would be very costly to take action. It’s worth noting that Hyundai denies Kim’s claims.
3 Hyundai’s Chairman Was Arrested In 2006
This sketchy part of Hyundai’s history goes all the way back to 2006. Despite riding a wave of success in the auto industry at the time, Hyundai's higher ups got in trouble. CNN reports that in April of that year, law enforcement charged the company's chairman, Chung Mong-koo, with embezzlement and arrested him.
2 The Chairman’s Son Was Under Investigation Too
Hyundai’s chairman in 2006 wasn’t the only one in deep water, though. CNN reports that his son, Chung Eui-sun, was also under investigation at the time. Investigators were trying to figure out whether the family was using corporate assets illegally, which certainly made the automaker look sketchy at the time.
1 Other Execs Got In Trouble
Not just the chairman, and not just his son – but also a bunch of other execs at Hyundai were under investigation too. Investigators suspected that many of Hyundai's execs bad committed a series of illegal acts from tax evasion to embezzlement and more. It wasn’t a bright spot on the automaker’s history, despite all its success at the time.
Sources: Reuters, The Boston Globe, CBC, Car and Driver, John Foy & Associates, Los Angeles Times, The Japan Times, CNN