Hyundai is planning to enter Indian luxury-car segment with its full-size luxury offerings, the Genesis and Equus. Hyundai since its arrival in India over 12 years ago has always been known for its small hatchbacks and for a long time the only sedan it offered was the Accent. Despite now having the Verna, Elantra and the Sonata in its range, the tag of it being a small car manufacturer has not changed. With the introduction of such vehicles, it is likely that Hyundai will want to improve its brand perception in the country.
“We are studying the luxury space right now, though there is nothing definite yet. Apart from Equus, there are more luxury models in the Hyundai range. However, we will need a different network to sell these cars. We are gauging customer acceptance of Hyundai’s luxury car range and then we will take a decision,” a Hyundai India official told the Financial Express.
Hyundai has been focusing on improving its image to make it look more of an up market car manufacturer. The Elantra and Sonata are part of its effort in changing its image, though it doesn’t seem to be very successful with its premium-SUV, the Santa Fe. The Genesis and Equus, when launched, would be imported as completely-built-units (CBU) from Korea. Though the current versions are only available in left-hand-drive markets, the 2015 models are being developed for right-hand-drive markets too.
Introduced in March 2007 as ‘Concept Genesis’, the Genesis sedan is a luxury sedan that was designed to compete with the BMW 5 Series, Mercedes E-Class and the Audi A6. Featuring a 5.0-litre V8 (the most powerful Hyundai V8 ever) and a 3.8-litre V6, the sedan is powered by an eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters.
The Equus on the other hand is Hyundai’s flagship model and goes up against the BMW 7 Series, Mercedes S-Class, Lexus LS460 and the Audi A8. It also features the same 5.0-litre V8 along with a long feature-list. As a luxury-car, it comes very close to providing an equal match to competitors such as the Lexus LS460 that are priced at least $10,000(Rs 6,10,000) higher.
Though both these cars have been quite successful in the overseas markets, Hyundai has its work cut-out in case it wants to make any impact in India. Though Jaguar and Volvo are catching-up in India now, they are nowhere near the big three Germans in terms of sales. Unless they enter the market with a different marquee (like Lexus does for Toyota and Acura for Honda) it will take a while for people to justify spending such kind of money on a ‘Hyundai’ branded vehicle. In all probability the Korean automaker would have to provide exclusive services and completely different experience even to ensure that the Equus and Genesis make some kind of mark.