At last year's Shanghai auto show, Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn was captured on tape behind the wheel of a Hyundai, impatiently asking his aides: "How come they can do it?"
That's a question more and more people are asking these days because the Koreans consistently do things that look impossible.
The latest example? Hyundai and Kia together are expected to sell 1.3 million vehicles in China this year, making it their No. 1 market worldwide.
The Koreans have a larger market share than Toyota, Nissan or Honda in the Middle Kingdom and are closing in on Shanghai General Motors.
Most remarkable: They have achieved record sales and market share in China despite several challenges that easily could have sidelined them.
So what are the key ingredients in this stunning success? And can the Koreans continue to work around some lingering liabilities?
Ironically, Hyundai and Kia have achieved remarkable heights in China despite some serious shortcomings.