Showcasing Hyundai’s brief life story


Hyundai’s glass-and-steel Motorstudio Goyang is one part automotive museum, one part amusement park. Photo credit: HANS GREIMEL

SEOUL — The sprawling, city block-sized Hyundai Motorstudio Goyang is a gleaming steel-and-glass pantheon with nearly everything you need to know about Korea’s top carmaker.

Parading accomplishments from Genesis luxury vehicles to Hyundai heavy-duty trucks, the futuristic showroom is one part automotive museum, one part Disneyland. It paints a picture of the brand through high-tech interactive computer displays, wild modern art and cars, cars galore.

But one thing you won’t find much about is Hyundai’s heritage.

And there’s a simple reason for that: Hyundai is still young.

The Motorstudio is built in the same spirit of motor malls from other global giants such as Volkswagen or Toyota. Sitting on the outskirts of Seoul, it opened to the public last year. Admission costs 10,000 won ($9.32).

Hyundai blends art and engineering to tell its story. Photo credit: HANS GREIMEL

But absent is the familiar stroll down memory lane, with corporate timelines, nameplate family trees and meticulously restored vintage models — though, one of Hyundai’s halls has a few displays flaunting some of the brand’s World Rally Championship racers.

Despite its outsize stance on the global stage as an automotive powerhouse, Hyundai has little heritage to brag about yet. Hyundai Motor Co.’s history is brief. The carmaker was founded in 1967, it has scant racing history and it developed its first proprietary engine in 1991.

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By contrast, German and U.S. brands date back a century and helped invent modern motorsports, while their Japanese rivals trace their roots to before World War II.

One of the Motorstudio’s only nods to Hyundai’s breakneck ascent is an assortment of gift store bric-a-brac paying homage to the Pony of 1975, South Korea’s first mass produced car.

Photo credit: HANS GREIMEL

Guides called “storytellers” shepherd visitors through the steps of building a car, starting with the hands-on experience of fingering through display bins of iron ore pellets, the key raw material for steel. The journey continues with factory robots welding, painting and then assembling Hyundai cars, each inside a giant glass fishbowl.

Downstairs, other artsy exhibits explain how airbags work, simulate a crash test, allow visitors to sculpt their own virtual clay model and describe how Hyundai’s engineers find inspiration from a symphony when fine-tuning the sounds of everything from engines to windshield wipers. Engines draw from the cello, wipers from the violin. Or so Hyundai says.

There’s is also a business hook to the Hyundai Motorstudio.

Visitors inspired to buy can make reservations to test drive an assortment of vehicles, including the Ioniq EV electric compact and the Genesis G90 luxury flagship sedan.

Afterward, they can digest the drive in the Motorstudio’s restaurant or one of its two cafes.

Visitors follow building a car, from raw iron ore to final assembly. Photo credit: HANS GREIMEL

The Motorstudio’s vibe, is all about cutting-edge design, avant-garde art and next-generation technology.

Like the tech-savvy nation of South Korea, Hyundai tries to cultivate a forward-looking aura. It may be no surprise, then, that this youthful automaker spends so little time looking back.


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