Hyundai: Future May Include Luxury Sub-Brand with BMW 3 Series, Lexus RX Rivals

2010 has been a key year for Hyundai as their sales momentum grows, and Hyundai Motor America president John Krafcik has relayed to the Wall Street Journal that two new luxury models could be coming.

The grand plan would involve a premium, sporty sedan to rival the BMW 3 Series, along with a vehicle to compete with the Lexus RX, which is arguably the father of the contemporary luxury crossover. Hyundai currently anchors its upscale sales with the Genesis sedan and has positioned the Equus as the bang-for-the-buck player in the executive four-door world. The addition of two more models is undoubtedly ambitious and could necessitate the creation of a separate brand, similar to Toyota's formation of the Lexus brand, for example.

Though the Genesis coupe and sedan has managed to keep its head above water in 2010 with 26,699 sold through November (up 36.7 percent), the catalyst to ultimately get the wheels moving on Hyundai's answer to the 3 Series and RX will be how the Equus fares on the sales front.

Should a spin-off brand come into play, the WSJ report says it'd likely commandeer the "Genesis" name. It has already earned some value and credibility in the short time it's been on the market and Krafcik offered three specific branding scenarios that may or may not occur.

1) Genesis sub-brand will be housed in a separate part of existing Hyundai dealers (most likely) 2) Genesis sub-brand doesn't go into effect, new luxury models retain Hyundai name 3) Genesis sub-brand will gain own, distinct dealers (least likely)

For now, it's much too early to have more concrete information though we're certain more affordable competition in the compact premium sedan market will garner great attention, ala how the Genesis raised brows in its debut.

Of course, Hyundai won't neglect its staple product line and the lifeblood of the company. With the new year just weeks away, the marketing budget will continue to grow in an effort to boost brand visibility. Two new global marketing teams will be tasked with engaging the world's youth to find upcoming motoring trends and introducing innovative ad solutions to entice customers. But despite their recent improvements, it may be difficult to convince the average consumer that Hyundai is no longer purely about economy. Vehicle pricing is likely to increase in the coming years as well.

Hyundai is also incorporating a new global branding strategy dubbed "modern premium," signifying the marque's continued aspiration. The strategy will be formally revealed to the public during next month's Detroit auto show with the new campaign slogan "New Thinking, New Possibilities."

"In the past 10 years, we have been very successful in building an image for quality," said Hyundai global marketing chief Cho Won Hong. "From now on, our direction will be defined as new premium or modern premium."

Sources: Hyundai, Automotive News (Subscription required), Wall Street Journal

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