2009 wasn’t a good year to remember for many, with the economy bringing sales figures down along with it. But some have turned crisis into opportunity, and companies like Hyundai bucked the downward trend to proof that people still need, and will buy cars, even when every business report and analyst preach doom and gloom.

The Korean carmaker’s sales volume breached the three million unit mark for the first time in 2009, recording 3,106,762 to better 2008’s sales of 2,783,052, an increase of 11.6%. Domestic sales rose 23.1% while overseas markets went up by 8.7% to support the overall figure. Of the 2009 total, 702,672 or 22.6% were in Korea.

Besides much improved cars, Hyundai also came up with innovative schemes to draw in the carbuyer hit by economic uncertainty. The brand’s “Assurance” programme in the US offered to buy back cars should the owner loses his/her job. As a result, Hyundai, along with sister brand Kia and Subaru were the only three carmakers in the US to have improved figures over 2008. In Europe, sales of its small cars, such as the brilliant i10, rose strongly due to car scrappage schemes which added discounts to its already value priced cars.

In Australia, Hyundai sold an all time high 63,207 units, up 39.2% over 2008, making the brand the clear winner in the 2009 sales race. This year should be even better, as new products like the Sonata YF and Tucson/ix35 gather momentum.

The Koreans are coming? No, they’ve already arrived!