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Genesis, ‘N’ to lift Hyundai

G star: The Genesis sedan will get a makeover later this year and change names to G80.

Hyundai’s Genesis premium brand a ‘challenge’, but will boost company’s image

26 Feb 2016

HYUNDAI is hoping its Genesis luxury brand and the ‘N’ performance arm will give the South Korean car-maker’s brand image a shot in the arm in Australia.

The company announced late last year that it would set-up the Genesis luxury brand to compete with Japanese rivals such as Lexus and Infiniti, as well as European marques such as Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

Six Genesis models are planned by the end of the decade, including the facelifted Genesis sedan that will become known as the G80 from later this year, a larger sedan, a compact sedan to fight the C-Class and 3 Series, a pair of SUVs and a sportscar.

Hyundai Motor Company Australia senior manager product planning Andrew Tuitahi said the car-maker was aware of the massive challenge it faces launching a new brand into an ultra-competitive market segment.

“The number of studies of Asian luxury brands and looking at how long it took Lexus to come through, as well as the first Infiniti attempt, and Eunos,” he said. “We have looked at all of it in great detail. We know it is going to be hard work.”

Mr Tuitahi said the company has to be strategic in how it positions and prices Genesis models, while remaining appealing to new luxury buyers.

“We have got to try and very delicately balance the whole value thing as well.

We don’t want to be cheap. We want to have a high-quality, high-value product that is genuinely appealing. It’s very challenging. And we are going to be really pushing and testing not just our brand but also customers. Challenging them to consider it.” HMCA dipped its toe in premium waters in late 2014 with the launch of the Genesis sedan that is priced between $60,000 and $82,000 plus on-road costs, and Mr Tuitahi said the experiment has been slowly paying off.

“So far, the Genesis sedan, soon to be G80, it has been going well. Last year we essentially outsold Lexus ES and GS combined. As a measure of success I think that is pretty good,” he said.

“We are seeing it going into some interesting markets with hire cars. The benefit is picking someone up from the airport who maybe drives a 5 Series themselves, they get to sit in it, experience it and feel it. That big challenge is getting bums in seats.”

Last year Hyundai shifted 540 Genesis’, while Lexus sold a combined total of 533 examples of its ES and GS.

Mr Tuitahi added that the Genesis range will have a positive impact on the more mainstream Hyundai brand.

“It’s an exciting thing. The Genesis brand as a whole will do a lot to escalate Hyundai. You’ll see a lot of the tech filter down. Just stretching that R&D right to the limits works well.”

The forthcoming Hyundai N performance arm will also help lift the Korean car-maker’s brand image, but Mr Tuitahi was coy on timing and models for Australia.

“We are expecting to launch N in Australia. I can’t say what the first model will be. But there are several candidates. N will touch on Hyundai models, Genesis models. So there are several candidates for the first one.”

A performance-honed i30 has been spied testing at the Nurburgring in Germany where Hyundai has set up an R&D centre, making it the most likely candidate to first cab off the rank.

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