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Hyundai goes to the ’Ring

Ring of fire: Hyundai's new test facility at the Nurburgring circuit in Germany is part of a wider plan to boost the image of the South Korean car-maker.

All new Hyundai models to be tested at new $7m Nurburgring facility

16 Jan 2013

HYUNDAI is to open a new $A7 million, 3050 square-metre vehicle test facility at the famed Nurburgring circuit in Germany, just 160km down the Autobahn from its research and development centre in Russelsheim.

The Nurburgring plan is part of Hyundai’s bid to boost brand perception, initiated by last year’s announcement that it would return to the World Rally Championship with a factory team in 2013, and the introduction of sporty SR variants starting with the Veloster Turbo coupe.

Work to improve the dynamics and durability of all new Hyundai vehicles will take place at the Nurburgring facility, which Hyundai says “reaffirms the brand’s commitment to developing its credentials as a top European car-maker”.

Hyundai Motor Europe senior vice-president and COO Allan Rushforth said the Nurburgring facility “is an expression of our intention to focus on improving the customer experience of our vehicles, such as ride and handling – an important consideration for European drivers”.

“The new centre represents a significant investment, and one we expect will significantly contribute to enhancing the perception of the Hyundai brand and our key competitive competence in Europe.”

Hyundai’s Australian outpost subjects its vehicles to local ride and handling tweaks, and GoAuto understands the Australian efforts are well-respected by Hyundai globally, with at least one Australian-developed tune having been poached for use in Europe.

Meanwhile, the South Korean giant has signed a 50/50 joint venture with Chinese vehicle manufacturer Sichuan Nanjun Auto, with a long-term goal of producing up to 700,000 trucks and buses per year at a new factory at Ziyang in Sichuan province.

Investment in the new factory – construction of which has already started – will reach 5.4 billion Yuan ($A822 million).

Hyundai expects the plant to have the capacity to produce 160,000 trucks, 10,000 buses and 20,000 heavy duty engines annually by June next year.

The joint venture, named Sichuan Hyundai, will also use an existing factory to produce the Hyundai County small bus as a rival to the Toyota Coaster, which is also built in the Sichuan region by a joint venture between First Auto Works and Toyota.

Hyundai has become one of the most successful foreign car-makers in China, its Elantra and Verna (sold here as the Accent) respectively placing eighth and ninth on the best-seller table with more than 200,000 sales apiece last year.

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