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Hyundai Genesis challenges Germans

2013-11-27 14:02

2014 HYUNDAI GENESIS: It's followed its sister-ship the Kia K900 into the US market to challenge Germany luxury-car domination. Image: AP

YOUKYUNG LEE

NAMYANGJU, South Korea - Hyundai has revamped its luxury Genesis sedan for the first time since 2008 in an attempt to elevate its brand and grab a bigger share of US auto sales from American and European automakers.

Hyundai, since entering the US in 1986, has carved out a niche among buyers looking for cheaper alternatives to Toyota's big-selling Camry and Corolla. And, unlike the previous model, this one will be coming to South Africa.

Sophistication, power and style have not been qualities typically associated with its brand but now South Korea's largest automaker hopes to expand sales by competing more boldly against BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Lexus and other high-end brands.

SEEKING 10% GROWTH

The new Genesis luxury sedan follows immediately after that of sister brand Kia’s K900 supersedan which is based on the same platform – a sharing process common across the two badges.

Y J Ahn, a director of Hyundai's American operation, said the redesigned sedan would help drive 10%  growth in Hyundai's 2014 US sales from the 734 000 expected by end-2013. The automaker's US market share declined to 4.7% in the first nine months of 2013 from 4.9 in 2012.

"This is a chance to raise Hyundai's image in the premium car market," he added.

The new Genesis models will be retail from the equivalent of $43 908 to $65 582 in South Korea. US prices have yet to be set but will, Hyundai officials said, be less than equivalent German products. There will be a choice of 2242cc and 3778cc engines.

QUALITY CONTROL MORE RIGID

Eventually, Hyundai believes, buyers will not baulk at paying a premium for Hyundai. Park Joon Hong, a research fellow at Hyundai's R&D division, said: "Hyundai cars are known for good value for money but such perception can no longer make us competitive."

Park said quality control had become more rigid in response to recent recalls: nearly 1.9-million Hyundai and Kia cars and SUVs were recalled in April 2013 to replace faulty brake light switches and other problems.

The redesigned Genesis has new features, technology, more legroom and other improvements. It is also Hyundai's first all-wheel drive sedan. It also contains more high-strength steel 50% intstead of 14%.
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