Led the in-house development of 34 car models, from the Pony to the Equus
The witness of the technological development history who raised the R&D of Hyundai Motors to a globally recognized level
Former CEO of Hyundai Motors (1945~)
- Academic background
Engineering Education Dept., College of Engineering, Seoul National University
Completed EMBA, Seoul National University
- Professional career
1969 ~ 1993
Technology Development Dept., Hyundai Motors
1993 ~ 1999
Head of R&D Division, Vice President, Hyundai Motors
1999 ~ 2002
Head of Integrated R&D Division, President, Hyundai Motors
2001 ~ 2003
Committee member, National Science and Technology Development Committee
2012 ~ 2016
President, AI Automobile Platform Center, Next Generation Integration Technology Institute, Seoul National University
2014 ~ 현재
President, Korean Academy of Automobile Engineering
Industrial Service Medal
March 1st Culture Award (Technology)
Gold Tower Order of Industrial Service Merit
Appointed as one of the 100 Technology Leaders of Korea (Korean Academy of Engineering)
The maestro of technological development who served a core role for the compressed growth of the automotive industry
President Chung-Gu Lee is the maestro who critically contributed to the leveling up of the Korean automotive industry to the global standard.
Born in 1945 in Youngdong, Chungbuk province, he became familiar with automobiles since his college times. He studied automobile engineering at the College of Engineering, Seoul National University. After graduation, he served in the army as an officer in charge of automobile maintenance at the transportation department. Following this, he joined Hyundai Motors in 1969 as the first ROTC employee. The fact that he participated as a core member when Korea began automobile technology development is important backdrop of his functioning as the core person in the technological development of automobiles. Since that time, he continued to devote himself for 40 years, facing a variety of difficulties, and made accomplishments of designing and manufacturing lots of cars. To say the least, Korean cars were born and evolved by him.
Prepared the guidebook of ‘Lee’s notes’ participating in the development of the Pony, the first Korean car model
One of his major accomplishments is the leading participation in the development of Pony, the first Korean model car. He went to Italy where Ital Design, which was in charge of the design, styling, and prototype manufacturing, is located as a technology member of the project in 1947. There, he had a hard training on advanced technologies for 10 months. Returning home, he participated in securing actual production technologies such as detailed designing with the help of foreign experts and the ‘Lee’s notes’, which he wrote in Italy functioned very properly as technology guidance. At last, Pony was produced in 1976 and became popular, being called the people’s car. This made Korea the 9th car producer with its own model.
Next, he proceeded with the ‘X-car Project’ and ‘Y-car Project’, which improved small cars and developed mid-sized cars, respectively. Since 1978, Hyundai Motors had proceeded with a fully-fledged ‘chasing technology development (which makes compressed learning of development processes and establishes R&D system)’ and in the center of the project was the man in charge of the design, President Lee. Through the process, they seriously sought the independence of core technologies in automobiles initiated by the establishment of the Mabukri Institute in 1981. Along with this, lots of parts companies were established as well. As a result of the project, they launched a small car, Pony Excel, and a mid-sized car, Stella, at the same time, both of which were developed as front-wheel drive cars, led by Korea. Of the two, Stella was designated as the formal ceremony sedan for the Seoul Olympic Games in 1988.
Succeeded to develop, without support from overseas, core technologies and established the full line-up for the company’s own models
Also, under the guidance of him, the president of the institute, they developed for the first time in Korea, the alpha engine for a small car in 1991 and the beta engine for a mid-sized car in 1995. Even without any actual experience of designing an old method carburetor engine, they began to develop the most up-to-date electronic control module engine, for which other advanced countries would not help Korea transfer the technology. They further developed this into a new mid-sized engine, for which global automotive industries were competing fiercely. As they were targeting full swing exports to the USA, they had to satisfy all the various conditions such as capability, mileage, noise, durability, weight lightening, exhaust, etc. By this, they succeeded to launch Accent, which had the alpha engine in their own model, and Avante, which had the beta engine with their own sash platform technology. This recorded the actual independence of the automobile technology.
Led by him, Hyundai Motors developed as many as 34 cars and many commercial vehicles for 40 years. The categories were diversified from small cars to large-sized cars and in the aspect of technology, they developed from the copying to the self-sufficient stage. Among the cars, Pony (1976), Stella (1983), Pony Excel (1985), Sonata (1985), Grandeur (1986), Accent (1994), Avante (1995), Equus (1999), and Santa Fe (2000) are the best known, with many exported abroad, including to the USA. With this success, Korea made the great leap from the least developed automotive industry to the fifth in the world.
He received the Industry Service Medal in 1978 with the meritorious achievements. In commendation of developing the Pony, he was awarded the biggest award among all the employees of the company. In 1994, he was awarded the March 1st Culture Award (Technology area) being appreciated with the achievement of developing the Accent, which was exported to the USA. In 2000, he had the honor of receiving the Gold Tower Order of Industrial Service Merit, the highest commendation to those who contributed to the industrial development of the nation.
President Lee, with all these achievements, can be said to be the leading engineer who created the technological development path of the Korean automotive industry and raised the industry’s profile to one of the global powers. He always kept the belief, “There always exists a solution” and faced and solved actual technological problems with an affirmative and confident work attitude all the time. That is to say, he was an omnidirectional innovator who very effectively designed the path of Korea’s automobile technology development.