After something of lull last year, Hyundai is preparing to replace two key vehicles, the Genesis and the Sonata, as it begins to pick up the pace of its product launches.
Dave Zuchowski, chief executive officer Hyundai Motor America, said the introduction of new vehicles was vital to Hyundai’s growth, following the 2008-2009 recession, “Our product cadence has been very aggressive and that’s contributed to our success,” he said. “We doubled our volume over the past five years.”
Even though the company’s expansion was slower last year, Hyundai’s sales still grew by a modest 2.5%. In addition, Hyundai’s standing with customers has steadily improved and they are also quick to recommend the brand to others.
“We’ve tried to focus on customer delight. We’re number one in customer total value, number one in customer advocacy and we’re number one in customer loyalty,” Zuchowski said.
“We feel very good about this year,” he added, noting the South Korean automaker is prepared to introduce not only the 2015 Genesis and 2015 Sonata, but also the Tucson fuel cell vehicle, which will be sold exclusively in Southern California.
The Genesis will go on sale next month and the Sonata, which Hyundai plans to unveil later this month at the New York Auto Show, will go on sale this summer. “We’ll start building (the Sonata) in May and start selling it in June,” he said.
The new version of the Genesis also promises to bring more affluent customers into Hyundai showrooms. “It expands our market coverage,” he said, adding that since the recession customers have redefined luxury. “It’s not a huge volume vehicle, but it’s a very important halo vehicle for us.
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“The Genesis serves to lift the entire brand,” added Zuchowski, who noted the first generation Genesis, which was introduced in 2008, managed to compete with cars such as the Cadillac CTS, Lexus GS350, BMW 5-series and Mercedes-Benz E-class. In fact, Hyundai’s share of the “midlux” segment is actually larger now than its share of the general market.
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The second generation Genesis, which rides on a completely new chassis that comes with a re-engineered suspension, will help Hyundai boost its share of the mid-luxury category. “Baby Boomers have been the principle buyers of the Genesis, but Hyundai hopes to attract somewhat younger buyers between 38 and 55 with the second-generation Genesis.
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Pricing for the Genesis starts at $38,000 for the well-equipped 3.8-liter V6 and $51,500 for the 5.0-liter V8 model.
“The all-new Genesis rivals the best premium sedans in the world, at a price point many thousands of dollars less,” Zuchowski said. “Our 2015 Genesis represents a bold step forward for Hyundai and reinforces the successful strategy of marketing our premium models under the Hyundai brand umbrella, rather than a costly separate luxury brand sales channel. As a result, we’re able to pass the benefits of this strategy directly to our valued customers.”