Hyundai’s ‘N’ means performance

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Hyundai’s ‘N’ means performance

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Team members of Hyundai Motorsport unveil the i20 World Rally Championship car at Hyundai Motor Europe headquarters in Offenbach, Germany, on Tuesday. Provided by the company

Hyundai Motor has unveiled its in-house performance brand called “N” following the launch of its motorsport team, which will make its debut at the 2014 FIA World Rally Championship in Monte Carlo next month.

The nation’s largest automaker said yesterday that N will be used to symbolize its high-performance technology on both the i20 WRC car and mass-produced cars.

The company said N takes inspiration in both name and spirit from the Namyang R&D Center in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi, which has collaborated with Hyundai Motorsport in Germany on the development of the i20 WRC.

“Linked directly to the company’s renewed involvement in the WRC, N brings together Hyundai Motor’s technology and innovation with the learning from Hyundai Motorsport to provide a new experience for customers,” the company said in a release yesterday.

Last month, Yang Seung-wook, vice president of Hyundai Motor Europe Technical Center in Russelsheim, Germany, revealed the name has been given to the performance brand, but didn’t talk about specific models.

Industry observers speculate the i20 subcompact is the top candidate to be marketed with the N nametag since the WRC car is based on the model, while the Veloster also is mentioned.

The move is considered part of Hyundai’s strategy to beef up its brand value. The company recently tried to polish its image by introducing the new Genesis to compete with German luxury brands. The performance brand is to make the automakers’ image more dynamic.

Other global automakers have been marketing their own performance sub-brands. Mercedes-Benz has AMG, while BMW uses M to identify its performance cars. Audi has S and RS models, while Chrysler goes with SRT and Nissan with Nismo.

Meanwhile, Hyundai unveiled its full motorsport team lineup Tuesday at a launch event in Offenbach, Germany, with more than 150 guests attending.

“Our aims for 2014 are?realistic: We want to finish each rally with both cars [driven by Thierry Neuville and Juho Hanninen] and build up a database of?information and experience so we can develop ourselves into prospective rally?winners in the future,” said Michel Nandan, team principal of Hyundai Motorsport. “If all goes well, we hope to be competing for occasional?podiums as the year progresses.”

The complete lineup for 2014 includes a new title partner, Shell, which will see the name changed to Hyundai Shell World Rally Team. The multiyear partnership will also see Shell Helix-Ultra logos adorn the Hyundai i20 WRC at all WRC events, according to Hyundai.

BY JOO KYUNG-DON [kjoo@joongang.co.kr]

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