SEOUL - Hyundai Motor Co. may build assembly plants in Europe and North America to reach its target of selling 500,000 vehicles a year in both markets by 2005.
'We're concentrating our efforts on improving competitiveness and quality, and defining plans for new plants in the future,' Hyundai Motor Chairman Chung Mong-Koo said in an interview here.
Chung said a possible addition of capacity outside Korea is a key to the company's strategic planning.
Last year, Hyundai sold 222,600 vehicles in western Europe.
Lee Chung-Goo, president of the research and development division, said Hyundai learned several valuable lessons about plant location from its bad experience in Bromont, Quebec, Canada. Hyundai built cars from kits at Bromont from 1990 to 1994.
'The venture was badly managed both in Korea and in Canada,' he said. 'We did not select the right location or the right vehicles, and the quality was nowhere near good enough.'
In the early 1990s, Hyundai considered building a plant in Europe. Among the favored locations was Wales.
The recent deal with DaimlerChrysler, which purchased a 10 percent stake in the Korean automaker, will help the company's long-term plans, Chung said.
'We are still looking at the synergies, but there will be obvious benefits in terms of economies of scale in purchasing and joint projects,' he said.
Development of a joint world car with Mitsubishi Motors Corp. is under way with input from DaimlerChrysler, he said. The 1.0-liter car will be built in Hyundai plants in Korea and China and at Mitsubishi's NedCar factory in Born, the Netherlands.
Chung said DaimlerChrysler would also have a model based on this platform in the future. This is likely to be a four-seat Smart.
Chung said: 'We are working very hard with our suppliers to improve the quality and durability of our vehicles. We can learn a lot from DaimlerChrysler in this respect.'
Raising Hyundai's image is also important to Chung. He said Hyundai is 'talking seriously' about entering Formula One racing.