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Time For A New Brand: Hyundai To Continue Moving Upmarket

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On: Tue, Aug 30, 2011 at 3:02PM | By: Chris Weiss

Time For A New Brand: Hyundai To Continue Moving Upmarket

One of these days, Hyundai is going to need to release an upscale brand, a counterpart to Honda's Acura and Toyota's Lexus. Because despite the fact that the brand has made a steady climb upmarket with offerings like the $58,000 Equus, it's still hard to think of Hyundai in the same category as BMW or Mercedes. And the company has no plans of slowing down in its move up market.

According to AutoWeek, Hyundai plans to expand its offerings over the next few years, including moving into several higher end segments. It will also continue to offer more traditional, low priced models like the Accent and Elantra.

And therein lies Hyundai's problem from a marketing perspective – it's just hard for people to grasp a brand that offers the 1.6-liter four-cylinder-powered Accent, one of the lowest priced cars on the market, with high-end sports coupes and luxury sedans. It would behoove the brand to spin-off a luxury unit.

The Veracruz SUV will get a yearlong break from the market after the 2012 model year. It will be back in 2013 as a restyled, more luxurious 2014 model-year SUV. Hyundai will attempt to fully overhaul the slow-selling mid-sized SUV but, according to Autoweek's report, will hang onto the Veracruz name (why's Hyundai so damn attached to names?).

Hyundai will also launch an upmarket sports sedan designed to compete with the BMW 3-Series. The rear-driven sedan will share its platform with the Genesis and is expected to get aggressive, sporty styling inspired by the Genesis Coupe. That model will launch in 2013.

The sedan was the subject of a Wall Street Journal article last December that indicated Hyundai was debating whether or not to launch a separate luxury brand called "Genesis." At the time, Hyundai was said to be waiting to gauge Equus sales before committing to a luxury brand.

A past rumor indicated that Hyundai may even be working on a full-blown supercar built around the new 5.0-liter V-8 featured in the 2012 Genesis R-Spec and 2012 Equus. The model would compete with such cars as the Porsche 911 and Nissan GT-R and would cost as much as $100,000.

So would you buy a supercar or luxury SUV from a company that also sells an entry level, $12,500 four door? I think it's pretty clear: Hyundai needs a fresh, luxury/performance brand.

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