Hyundai launch a luxury brand, Genesis
Not content with launching a performance car brand, Hyundai has announced its intent to deliver luxury vehicles with the launch of its Genesis brand.
TOYOTA HAS LEXUS, Nissan has Infiniti and now Hyundai will have Genesis, which the brand say will “compete with the world’s leading luxury car brands”. We assume that means their Japanese equivalents as well as Audi, Mercedes and BMW rather than Rolls-Royce and Bentley.
So should we be excited? Infiniti has never managed to gain much traction in Australia, and most people think it makes hard disks. Lexus roll along comfortably but they aren’t an inspirational vehicle and are a bit staid. The Germans and others such as Jaguar have long tradition on their side, and somehow know how to make vehicles that bit more refined and elegant than the others. Hyundai will also be hampered by their reputation as a budget carmaker, with memories of the Excel fresh in Australian minds.
But that doesn’t mean to say they can’t succeed. It does mean that trying to beat the existing players at their own game of rich heritage won’t work. Hyundai need to be different, so we had a look at their press release to understand their thinking:
“Genesis models will boast outstanding driving dynamics and design, with innovations tailored to closely-meet the needs of customers. The new model line-up will distance itself from the traditional technological overload of brand-focused competitors, concentrating instead on a personalized, hassle-free customer experience.”
Well, that seems pretty much standard about driving dynamics, everybody claims that. The second part is more interesting. If there’s one area that luxury cars need to be improved it’s in the technological/electronic/computer design and intergation area. Too many of them feature a collection of subsystems that are poorly designed individually and the integration is even worse. I am quite willing to bet that many luxury car owners use only a fraction of their car’s capability, much like the way we only use a fraction of Microsoft Word and Excel. If Hyundai can crack this nut, there I very much see sales will follow. Won’t be easy though, and will require letting non-car people design cars – recruiting lots of computer usability engineers.
Some more on Hyundai’s thinking:
“The Genesis brand seeks to create a new definition of luxury, one that will provide a new platform for future mobility centered on people. By anticipating human needs at every touch point, Genesis models will embody four key aspects: Human-focused innovation, refined and balanced performance, athletic elegance in design and hassle-free customer experience.”
Flowery language there of course, but it does seem to confirm Genesis luxury will focus on the human/machine interface. The launch of the N performance brand will help with the perception of the dynamic handling too. I wonder if Hyundai might go for driver involvement over driver aids…one can but hope.
So what cars may we expect? Hyundai say “Six-model line-up begins roll-out from December catering for ‘new luxury’ customers, delivering personalized and human-centered experiences”. Exactly what that will be isn’t confirmed, but “new luxury” customers indicates that perhaps they might go for cashed-up people that wouldn’t normally buy a luxury car, or want something different. I know some very rich people that care nothing about cars and want to keep a low profile but are very busy…could they be a Genesis target? Entirely possible. We’ve already reviewed the Genesis – read more here.
There’s also the ‘snob factor’ – “to elevate and differentiate the Genesis brand from Hyundai, a distinct design identity, emblem, naming structure and customer service offering is being established”. Not clear if that’s entirely distinct dealerships, or how far the split between Genesis and Hyundai will go.
So what can we take away from this news? As we said in our analysis of Hyundai’s performance N brand, the company has the skills and money to do this right. It looks like they might have a niche the existing brands are ignoring, so it’s worth keeping an eye on developments if you want a luxury vehicle and aren’t bothered about a heritage brand marque.