The Wall Street Journal ran an article today about Hyundai’s entry into the luxury car market. The piece is comprehensive and addresses the major points any brand-conscious marketer might ask.
You can see the entire article by clicking “Hyundai Bets New Sedan
Is a Luxury It Can Afford”. But before you do, here are my comments.
First, I’d ask Hyundai if they think introducing a luxury car under their own name (instead of founding new divisions such as Toyota [Lexis], Nisson [Infiniti] and Honda [Acura] have done) won’t “taint” the new model, called Genesis?
Hyundai is claiming comparison to BMW and Mercedes, but at a much lower price.
Is that an oxymoron? Is a luxury brand sold on value? And can anyone ever think of Hyundai as a luxury vehicle?
The perception that Hyundai had been what my mechanic called a “throw-away” car when it first arrived in the U.S. still persists according to the WSJ article. People don’t know its quality rivals Toyota and Honda. I know because I drive a Hyundai Elantra and love it.
So how can Hyundai introduce a value-priced luxury competitor and have any credibility? Where’s the panache? Where’s the heritage? Where’s the prestige?
It takes a long time for perceptions of a brand to change. In this case there are two problems: the existing perception of Hyundai and the idea that a luxury car comes with a value price tag.
There’s another factor: their timing. Hyundai follows the Japanese “big three” by at least a decade. And the market is trending toward fuel efficiency and “thinking green”. For a company like Hyundai, that would be a better direction to take in today’s environment. There’s where they could make a difference sooner and with more impact and credibility.
Good luck, Hyundai. I love you, but I think you’ve taken a wrong turn.