Hyundai's Search For Luxury: 4 Types of Cars Genesis Needs
We all know that Hyundai started out making cheap, as in really cheap, unreliable cars. They redeemed that issue with an all out attack on quality control and public perception for them as a brand. One method they used was a one-up on the old Chrysler Corporation re-branding back in the seventies with its heralded 5/50 warranty, when the norm as 12/12 as in twelve months or 12,000 miles. It put a shine on cars as being reliable. Why else would Chrysler risk all those warranty claims. For sales, that’s why. Nothing had changed, and I have a memory of a failed water pump at 40,000 miles to substantiate that. Suspicion that it was a PR stunt was validated by Chrysler subsequently dropping the warranty because it proved too costly. Hyundai chose another road. They made the 100,000 mile warranty less costly by reducing the failure rate. What a concept.
Abortive Name Changes in a Quest for Luxury Market
Hyundai was made several attempts at cracking the luxury market, but the public didn’t seem prepared to accept them. Remember the G30, the Azera, the Equus, (still manufactured and sold, but now it seems to be the high-end model for Hyundai while the Hyundai Genesis is being rolled out as a separate brand with multiple models.) Mostly they were tarted up Hyundai’s with less than stellar interiors, handling, comfort and whiz-bang electronics and telematics, but they were inexpensive compared to their competitors.
Hyundai’s Big Bang with the First Genesis Sedan
It seems like Hyundai felt confident enough that they were now in the same ballpark with their newest effort at cracking the luxury market. Their sales were respectable on introduction in 2010 with 1670 in Janary. They’ve ben on a bit of a roller coaster. January 2013 had sales of 2472, but January 2014 had sales of only 1459. A drop of 47%. Wow! But they rebounded in 2015 for the same month to 2573, a magnificent rebound. This year their January sales wilted again to 1907! That’s why I don’t like roller coasters, all the ups and downs make me nauseated.
So, while their sales numbers are still quite small, and this, in turn, makes the numbers more volatile, (check out Maserati, talk about volatility), They are making strides. To put their numbers into perspective, Caddy sold 11,680 cars in January 2015. Lexus sold 11,654 vehicles and the leader, BMW in 2015 sold 13,597. (Side Note: Surprising how close all these sales totals are. Many people think Cadillac is a total loser, but they were just under 2,000 cars off the pace. Not bad.
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So, Genesis is currently handicapped by their only having one model. That will change quickly. They also still have a way to go to equal the sophistication of Lexus, BMW, Mercedes and Caddy.
Other Automakers Problems with Luxury Brands
The auto industry is littered with the fond hopes and ambitions of car companies which rolled out luxury marques with little acceptance. Arguably this goes back in recent times as far as the Ford Edsel of ridiculed memory. Mitsubishi had a spectacular failure with its effort to introduce the Diamante brand, (a play on the name Mitsubishi which means three diamonds in Japanese). People don’t even remember the LaSalle except for the theme song of the show “All in the Family”. Even ultra successful car companies like Daimler, home of the Mercedes brand did a face plant with its effort to introduce the ultra-luxe Maybach. They even flew the first one on these shores into NYC with a helicopter for pete’s sakes. And last, but not least, let’s not forget the ridiculous VW Phaeton, an answer to a question no-one asked. You could call that Winterkorn’s fist disaster.
But enough of that. Where does Genesis go from here? The paltry sales figures do not mandate a success as of this point, but it is promising. They are going to roll out more models so they can become competitive with the currently successful luxury models. They need an SUV, a CUV, a coupe and maybe a sports car. The jury is out.