Hyundai is going its own way as it launches its Genesis marque.
In case you hadn’t heard, Hyundai has decided to launch its own luxury brand and will call it “Genesis,” the same name it uses for one of its high-end sedans. The Genesis brand will roll out in 2017 as two of its current models the Hyundai Genesis and Equus become the Genesis G80 and G90, respectively.
Korean automaker Hyundai has long considered its luxury options and originally decided its Hyundai nameplate was good enough to battle Lexus, Cadillac, Mercedes-Benz and other luxury makes. But Genesis will not do something competing manufacturers have done — make a clean break from its mainstream brand.
Genesis Builds on Hyundai
Instead, Hyundai will rely on its existing dealer network to promote the Genesis brand with the new models offered under the same roof. Where Japanese makes such as Toyota have worked diligently to launch and maintain Lexus as a separate entity, Hyundai is less concerned about the possible confusion and seems intent on building upon that.
Gradually, Hyundai plans to launch a series of rear-wheel drive models bearing the Genesis name and is poised to take on such models as the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, the Cadillac CTS, and the Lexus LS, to name a few. Once the original three sedans are launched, the automaker plans to add a coupe, crossover, and an SUV. Targeted models may include the BMW 4 Series, Audi Q5, and the Infiniti QX80.
To get there, the Genesis brand will rely upon the capable shoulders of Belgian car designer Luc Donckerwolke, formerly with Bentley. Donckerwolke left the Volkswagen Group a few months before the Volkswagen diesel scandal was revealed and will be tasked with presenting a new look for the Genesis brand.
Hints of that look may have already been seen in the Hyundai Vision G Concept Coupe unveiled at Pebble Bech this year, a four-door model that may point to the upcoming G80. Regardless, in Donckerwolke, Hyundai gains a designer whose handiwork appears on such models as the Lamborghini Murciélago and Bentley’s Flying Spur.
Strong Challengers in Place
Moving directly into the luxury realm is not without its challenges as well as its challengers. Several brands are deeply entrenched — Lexus, Mercedes-Benz and BMW are a few that come to mind. Audi, despite its Volkswagen problems, is backed by the largest car manufacturer in the world. Cadillac and Lincoln are now receiving billions of dollars in new funding from GM and Ford, respectively. Even smaller brands such as Jaguar, Land Rover and Volvo have gained new life as new owners have stepped in. Acura and Infiniti will also stand in the way.
But challenge is not a word that has stopped Hyundai in the past. In the 1980s, when it was new to the car making business, its Excel subcompact introduced low-cost Korean cars to the US market. But it brought with it a reputation for shoddy build quality, something Hyundai has gradually overcome.
Today, the Hyundai and sister Kia brands are near the top of the leading quality surveys. Further, the parent Hyundai Kia Automotive Group is now the fourth largest car manufacturer in the world. Hyundai-Kia has the muscle and the deep pockets to go with it.
Product Mix and a Changing Market
Perhaps the biggest challenge for the Genesis marque may be its product mix. By going with sedans initially, it will miss out on crossovers and SUVs, body styles that are contributing to the rise of not a few luxury brands. Then again, by the time Genesis gains hold, consumer tastes might shift again, especially if fuel prices rise and luxury cars become popular again.
See Also — Midsize Luxury Sedan: 2017 Genesis G80
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