The Chicago Tribune posted the following interview with John Krafcik, president and chief executive officer of Hyundai Motor America, where they discussed the CSR, clean energy, and the future direction of Hyundai on those issues.
October 9, 2013
Tell me a little bit about corporate social responsibility at Hyundai and how you think about creating shared value. Is this a concept that has evolved over time?
We have an internal saying at Hyundai: "We set targets that we don't know how to hit." This spirit drives a spirit of innovation in our culture, which in turn drives our business. We apply that same approach in corporate social responsibility, where we've also set stretch objectives.
Our concept of CSR at Hyundai isn't driven by a specific metric or corporate mandate. Rather, what we've found is that our CSR initiatives bind us all together - from our dealers to our employees to our customers - in a way that makes our business stronger. We've developed a more intuitive sense about the importance of deep connections with our communities, not only through providing great products, but also by giving back our time, talent and resources to solve big problems in society. Together, we can do good things. We work proudly with communities all across the country in a number of ways.
We have driven change in our CSR efforts over the years. It's fair to say that ten years ago, there wasn't a fully engaged commitment throughout the company supporting the worth of CSR. Good people questioned the ROI. But as we've ramped up our efforts to fight pediatric cancer through Hope on Wheels, we've seen a rewarding change in how CSR is viewed here. The momentum we've generated in our fight against this terrible disease has united the team like a big band of brothers. As we've made progress funding more and more talented pediatric cancer researchers across the U.S., we've developed higher expectations for our leadership role here. Our target, that no child should ever have to hear the words "You have cancer," is a commitment we all share at Hyundai. It's a commitment that delivers a critical social need, and a commitment that through the unifying force it provides at Hyundai, helps us in all aspects of our business.
What was the spark that created Hyundai Hope On Wheels back in 1998, and what kind of impact have you had since?
Hope On Wheels began in 1998 when a group of Hyundai dealers and company employees in the Boston area decided to raise money for The Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Jimmy Fund Program. That act of kindness grew into a non-profit 501(c)3 organization which now funds research at children's oncology member organizations across the nation. Hope on Wheels is a partnership between Hyundai and its dealers. Each dealer makes a donation with each vehicle they sell to Hyundai Hope On Wheels. Hyundai Motor America provides matching funds. Together, we have raised over $72 million for pediatric cancer research since the inception of the program. The mission of Hope on Wheels is to increase awareness of the disease and, most importantly, to fund research that finds a cure. We've made great progress on both counts over the last 15 years, but much work remains. The stories of the children suffering from cancer, the struggles of their families, and the dedication of the medical teams and researchers provide all the inspiration the Hyundai team needs to keep going in this quest.
Separate from the Hope On Wheels nonprofit, what are some of the other socially-conscious efforts underway at Hyundai?
Hope on Wheels is our primary philanthropic activity, but we are deeply committed to giving back to our communities across the nation in a range of other areas, including:
- MIND Research Institute grants to fund 16 math labs for K-6 schools across the nation
- Children's Hospital of Orange County donation to create their Hyundai Cancer Institute
- Leadership level donor for the creation of the Martin Luther King Memorial on the Mall of Washington DC
- Coats for Kids annual coat drive for needy families
- American Red Cross donations for Hurricane Sandy and Oklahoma City Tornado Relief
- International Day Of Poverty annual employee food and blood drive initiatives
- Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Intern Diaries program
- Mothers Against Drunk Driving Walk Like MADD
- Museum of Latin American Arts mobile arts program
- Los Angeles County Museum of Art exhibition sponsor
- City of Fountain Valley (home of our US HQ) community-based programs
When we talk about clean energy, electric cars, and everything in between, where do you think this is all heading 10, 20, 30 years from now?
Hyundai is committed to having a fuel-efficient fleet of vehicles that meets consumer needs. Popular Hyundai products, like the Sonata Hybrid, provide a no-compromise solution for our customers' needs today. Beyond hybrids and the continuing advances we're driving in the internal combustion engine, we're most excited about the potential of hydrogen-powered electric vehicles. Unlike battery-powered electric vehicles which have inconvenient recharging cycles driven by physics, hydrogen offers the possibility of range and refueling options similar to what drivers are used to today. The state of California is doing a great job leading the nation in building a hydrogen infrastructure, with 100 refueling stations coming on-line over the next few years. We're the first automaker in the world already mass-producing hydrogen-powered electric vehicles, with U.S. sales of our Tucson H2EV beginning early next year. One thing is for sure - there is no single best-answer to sustainable personal mobility. We'll continue with research work streams in hydrogen, battery, gasoline, diesel, and other fuels and technologies to ensure we develop the best solution set for tomorrow's drivers.
What role do you envision Hyundai playing in the future you just described?
We're committed to being a leader in CSR, and to being a leader for the environment. As an automaker, Hyundai has a strong position in CO2-reduction and personal safety systems in all the global markets in which we compete. Yet we see ourselves as more than a carmaker. We are committed to finding sustainable personal mobility solutions that ensure this great privilege is maintained for future generations. We're absolutely committed to our philanthropic causes and corporate social responsibility. We will play a partnership role with leading organizations across the land to help solve some of society's most difficult problems, with our efforts to end pediatric cancer through Hope on Wheels as our focal point. We will use our resources and voices to bring attention to other critical CSR priorities, such as STEM education initiatives. We'll continue to engage all of our employees, dealers and business partners in local initiatives to enrich our communities furthers. Our customers, employees and supporters expect Hyundai to be a socially responsible company. We take great care to manage that trust. Hyundai's CSR vision: "Together, we can do good things" are five humble words that say it all.