Get your Hyundai luxury car before they’re all gone.

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?

 Hyundai’s new Genesis luxury carThe 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.

Martin Jelsema

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