Meet Genesis: Hyundai’s fresh start

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Meet Genesis: Hyundai’s fresh start

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Hyundai Motor Group unveiled the all-new 2014 Genesis sedan yesterday at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in central Seoul. The new Genesis features a 282-horsepower Lambda 3.3 GDI engine and nine air bags. Prices start at 46.6 million won (43,966 dollars). [NEWS1]

The wraps finally came off the much-awaited next generation Genesis yesterday at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Seoul.

Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Chung Mong-koo exuded confidence that the upgraded premium sedan can compete with some of the top models in the global market.

The all-new Genesis is expected to challenge BMW’s 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz’s E-Class.

The Korean automaker’s goal is to sell 62,000 Genesis sedans worldwide next year.

The new Genesis comes with 3.3-liter and 3.8-liter engine options, and features a roomier interior, new hexagonal grille and in-car gadgets such as a head-up display, Hyundai said. It is priced from 46.6 million won ($44,000) to 69.6 million won, according to the company.

“The new Genesis has been reborn through the abstract of all of Hyundai Motor’s technology, while undergoing stringent performance evaluation and the best quality management,” Chung announced in front of about 1,000 prominent guests from home and abroad, including Prime Minister Chung Hong-won.

“The Genesis will raise Korea’s automotive industry reputation as well as Hyundai Motor’s brand value by competing squarely with the world’s top brands in the global market, including on their home turf in Europe,” Chung said.

The chairman added that while repaying customers who have supported the company with better-quality products, Hyundai Motor will contribute to the nation’s economic development and the realization of the government’s “creative economy” by expanding its investment in research and development in future growth areas like environmentally friendly vehicles.

It took four years and 500 billion won to develop the new all-wheel-drive Genesis.

Genesis, which made its debut in 2008, has a special place in the heart of Chung.

In fact, the chairman has publicly displayed his attachment to the sedan by urging employees to be on full alert until its release.

Chung last week even visited the company’s plant in Dangjin for a final check on the steel sheets that will be used in the new Genesis.

The first-generation Genesis helped turn around Hyundai Motor’s brand image in the global market.

Although Hyundai Motor had sold high-end luxury models in the global market, not only was its brand recognition low, but the cars with a Hyundai Motor logo were viewed as value-for-money.

But the Korean automaker aggressively marketed its premium sedan in the United States.

Genesis sales were more than 13,600 in 2009, followed by 16,400 in 2010.

“The success of the last Genesis raised Hyundai’s profile from a value-for-money car maker to a premium car contender,” said Shin Chung-kwan, an auto analyst at KB Investment and Securities. “Equipped with fresh looks and better contents, including all-wheel drive, the new Genesis is set to expand its market in the United States and help Hyundai win back market share from its competitors.”

The launch of the new Genesis comes at a time of slowing sales and image problems for Hyundai Motor due to recent recalls in the United States.

Last month, the Korean automaker’s U.S. sales grew an estimated 7 percent, still short of the double-digit growth posted by U.S. brands.

GM sales during the same month are estimated to have grown 16 percent and Ford 14 percent. Even sales of rival Japanese brands Toyota and Nissan are estimated to have grown 14 percent each.

According to Hyundai Motor’s operation in the United States, the Korean automaker sold more than 600,000 vehicles in the first 10 months of the year, about 2 percent better than the same period last year.

Sales in Europe are estimated to have dropped nearly 2 percent year-on-year last month to 30,800 units and 1.1 percent for the year.

In the domestic market, sales of Hyundai Motor vehicles fell 6.4 percent last month year-on-year.

Kwon Moon-sik, president of the company’s research and development division, and two other executives resigned Nov. 13 after the company suffered series of recalls this year in the United States and China.

One of them involved the brake system and cruise control on the first-generation Genesis.

More than 1.7 million vehicles were recalled in the United States for maintenance upgrades.

And earlier this year, Hyundai agreed to settle a group of lawsuits by U.S. customers who said they were misled into buying vehicles because the company overstated their fuel economy.

Following the recalls, the company has become more stringent in quality checks for the new Genesis, said Park Joon-hong, a research fellow at Hyundai’s automotive research and development division.


BY LEE HO-JEONG, BLOOMBERG [ojlee82@joongang.co.kr]

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