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Hyundai Lays Down Challenge with Genesis


2007 Hyundai Genesis concept

2007 Hyundai Genesis concept

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And in the beginning, there was Genesis. Concept Genesis, that is, the prototype for what could be the most dramatic transformation change in the Hyundai brand since the Korean carmaker first started selling its pint-sized Excel in the U.S., two decades ago.

 

Concept Genesis is the name given the high-line prototype Hyundai unveiled at the New York Auto Show on Wednesday. The long-rumored, coupe-like luxury sedan is sized somewhere between the BMW 5- and 7-Series or, if you prefer, the Lexus GS and LS lines. But when a production version hits showrooms, little more than a year from now, Hyundai expects to bring Genesis in for a “base” price of around $30,000 – with an updated version of its 3.8-liter V-6 – stretching up to a top end of under $40,000 for the V-8-powered version, top product boss John Krafcik told TheCarConnection.com.

 

The Genesis was perhaps one of the worst-kept secrets at the New York show, with Hyundai widely expected to exhibit a luxury sedan. But the debut of the sedan leaves a number of unanswered questions. For the moment, Hyundai officials are still debating what to call the production version, though Genesis is clearly a strong favorite. What the automaker has determined is that the rear-wheel-drive sedan – whatever it’s eventually called – will be marketed under the Hyundai nameplate. So will the likely spin-offs, Krafcik suggesting “One could imagine some very, very interesting platform variants off this.”

 

But Genesis doesn’t end Hyundai’s upmarket aspirations. Far from it. The automaker has been studying its options in the luxury market, and at one point considered using Concept Genesis to anchor an all-new, up-line brand that would go up against the likes of BMW or, more specifically, arch-rival Toyota’s Lexus marque. While some observers were viewing Wednesday’s announcement as the end of that study, both Krafcik and Hyundai’s U.S. boss, Steve Wilhite, cautioned that research continues. There are still “possibilities and potential” for a separate luxury brand, asserted Wilhite, during an interview. But he cautioned that there is “not a timeline” for making a decision. If anything, Hyundai has so much on its plate – among other things, wrapping up the launch of seven new models in 24 months – that it is simply overwhelmed running the main brand right now.

 

But the reception given the Genesis could help build internal momentum for moving ahead on a luxury brand. And at the very least, Hyundai officials are hoping that the Concept will further their efforts to erase the old image of a brand that was little more than a cheap and cheerful substitute for motorists who might otherwise have to settle for what is euphemistically referred to as a “previously-owned” vehicle. The challenge, said Krafcik, is “getting (the) respect” of opinion leaders who influence a dramatically disproportionate share of automotive purchases.

Related Articles

 

2007 New York Auto Show Index by TCC Team (4/3/2007)
GM concept, Buicks, WRX on tap.

 

Hyundai Details Concept Genesis by Marty Padgett (3/26/2007)
Rear-drive sedan concept coming to New York show.

 

Hyundai Azera Gets New Base Model by Marty Padgett (3/19/2007)
Smaller V-6, lower price tag.

 

Hyundai Plans U.S. Engine Plant by Marty Padgett (3/13/2007)
Factory will supply Ala., Ga. plants.

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