Hyundai's Luxury Rise
company. Sure, there were a few bumps along the way, but who would have thought that this one idea from an engineering company would become so much more.
Now after more than fifty (50) years in existence, Hyundai is finally moving further upstream. But this move was a long time coming as the move into the luxury world happened a lot sooner than Genesis will let you believe. Like both Lexus and Infiniti, Genesis was a brand which was spawned from existing products. Ones which had already been tried and tested and proved to be a bit more upscale than their standard stablemates. But to really see how this all happened you have to go back to the beginning.
Back in the late 90’s Hyundai purchased the Kia brand as it was about to flat line. Themselves being the product of a Ford upbringing as well, Kia was on their way out just before Hyundai took them over. And funny as it is, Ford was looking to pick up the brand before Hyundai dropped their pitch. Seems Korean fanfare won this day, but why did Hyundai really want to own their competition. Well at that time Hyundai was looking to move the latter and into a more premium product line. Something hard to do when the Accent is your bread and butter entry market vehicle. But Hyundai was determined to do it as they wanted a piece of the luxury market.
But to do this they would have to change the perception of their consumers and they buying public. So, to do this they would star importing their premium models from Korea into other markets. Yes, Hyundai already had premium models and it was around the time they purchased Kia that they had moved into the premium Asian market. But for the rest of the world, we still only had standard low budget Hyundai's. But that too would soon change.
During the late 90’s after releasing the Dynasty (Grandeur) model in their home market, Hyundai was looking to move themselves up the product chain. By then Hyundai had started producing better products as they had used the money from their cheap entry level vehicles for their R&D to push better quality. And that they did as the Sonata was slowly moving into Camry territory. This wouldn’t happen until the later part of the next decade, but Hyundai was already looking to make their next product move. And with the Dynasty/Grandeur model they did, as they soon released the XG350 and Kia Amanti onto the N.A. and E.U. marketplaces.
Trying their hand at a more premium market was a gamble as both Hyundai and Kia by this time were only known for cheap entry vehicles. Of course, Hyundai was on a better footing to move up as their quality was moving up. Kia on the other hand was just trying to make it in a new market and would soon find themselves the product of cheap luxury jokes.
The XG was not the greatest premium product in the world and was soon found to be only as good a base Camry. But that wasn’t bad news for Hyundai as their products were now being seen as more Toyota, Honda competitors, rather than the Chevrolet, Mitsubishi products they had before. And with that boost of energy from R&D, Hyundai was about to release their next foray into the premium marketplace.
As the XG name disappeared from their product lineup it opened up the door for the Azera to fill the void in upper echelon of their product lineup. But unlike the XG, the Azera was a bit more toned done and less of a premium market product. It did fit nicely into the product lineup and finally gave the Avalon a true competitor. Yes, the Azera was almost on par with a Toyota product and within a few years it was. But how did this help them move up into the luxury field. That is where the story gets really good.
The XG left a void in the product lineup when it left, as the Azera really never lived up the to the premium appeal that the XG had. But as the Azera was a move in the right direction for product quality, the forthcoming Genesis sedan was going to build upon this. And did it, as the Genesis sedan was a product like no other, ever from a Korean manufacture. Sure, the XG and Azera opened the door, but he Genesis was the product that paved the way for the entire brand. But unlike other premium products, the Genesis did not have any true markets from where It came from. That is what helped this product moved faster into the luxury marketplace.
Once the Genesis sedan started taking sales away from premium makes, it was soon time for Hyundai to bring another product over from Korea and finally hit the hammer on the head. This was done with the 2nd generation Hyundai Centennial or as you may know it better as the Hyundai Equus. The Equus was a model that would be a game changer for not only Hyundai, but also the entire luxury marketplace. And like Lexus, Acura and Infiniti before it, the Equus would help launch the soon to be named luxury arm of Hyundai.
As we said before Hyundai was still having trouble moving itself up the luxury scale and by the early 2000’s they had begun divesting their luxury models from the rest of the product line. Even their dealerships were divesting themselves and eventually Hyundai wanted the Genesis and Equus models to only be sold in dedicated dealerships. Soon enough Hyundai found that this was too little too late for themselves and it was better off if they split their luxury arm from the Hyundai name. Even with Kia moving up into the Hyundai marketplace, it was still better to move out rather than up. And by 2015 it was announced that Hyundai had given up their luxury dream and moved onto creating the Genesis line.
November 4th, 2015 was the day the world found out that Hyundai wasn’t moving up, but Genesis was becoming its own brand. That was the day we realized that Hyundai finally knew what we had been saying for years. You can’t always move up, but you can always move out. And like Toyota before them, Hyundai was finally moving out. Genesis was here and within a year its first year it would become a new player in the luxury ring. Hyundai had not only moved out, they moved up as well, as the Genesis lineup was comparable to the likes of BMW, Mercedes, Audi and Lexus. This was great news as they now didn’t have to compete with the like of Acura, Chrysler and Lincoln and could still have the chance to move Hyundai up. So, all hope was not lost, just the hope of becoming a luxury mark.
Today Hyundai is on par with its Asian rivals and still has a wide range of products worldwide. But as their Kia line moves further into their territory, they will have start moving a bit more upwards. This could still be a hard battle as some of their product offerings could be hard to move up. But that is only because they are great products and killing them off would be just too hard to do. So, here’s to Hyundai and their hard-fought battle which brought them from the Pony and Excel of the 80’s to the Azera and G90 of today.
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