Hyundai has reached the five million vehicles sold milestone in Europe, 34 years after the first Hyundai Pony was imported in 1977. The five millionth vehicle was an i30, a Golf class hatchback launched in 2007. Hyundai has shifted over 320,000 units of the i30 across Europe since then.

The momentum only picked up strongly in recent times. It took until 1996 before Hyundai recorded its first million sales, but the last one million was achieved in just three years. The two millionth car was sold in 2001, three millionth in 2005 and four millionth in 2008. For 27 consecutive months up to March 2011, Hyundai has outperformed the market sales trend in Europe. Its 2010 market share stands at 2.6%.

Designed for Europe. it was the introduction of the i30 in 2007, the first of the company’s products to carry the ‘i’ prefix, that started the recent climb. The i30 was soon followed by the i10 and i20 supermini, and more recently the ix20 compact MPV and ix35 SUV (Tucson to us).

“Hitting five million is a wonderful achievement for Hyundai, but this is just the beginning for the brand. We are planning for further sales growth during 2011, to take us to 3% market share. And in the longer term we expect the quality and desirability of our cars to help us maintain our momentum and deliver our next five million sales in a much shorter time frame,” said Allan Rushforth, Senior VP and COO of Hyundai Motor Europe.

Output from Hyundai’s manufacturing plant in Nošovice, Czech Republic increases this year to 300,000 units, even as its European R&D centre in Germany leads the company’s work on diesel technology.