You know the how the old saying goes…
“When the economy’s in the tank, offer the big-ticket items.”
What? That’s not a saying? Oh. Someone might want to tell the Koreans that.
Hyundai will announce the U.S. arrival of its premium luxury sedan, the Equus, at this weekend’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. The sedan will be sold in the U.S. beginning in late 2010.
While the Pebble Beach crowd might consider a pricetag just south of $60K a bargain, most of the rest of us still consider that a pretty hefty chunk o’ change. Conventional wisdom says unveiling an expensive new luxury car in a falling market is unwise, but then again Hyundai has no intentions of being conventional.
And maybe Hyundai can afford to take some risks, considering its sales have seen a boost, partially thanks to the infamous Cash for Clunkers plan. AutoObserver.com says:
The Hyundai group’s July sales – which includes the performance of Kia Motors America – actually were better compared with last year (a 16-percent jump) than with last month, over which sales improved 9 percent.
In typical Hyundai fashion, the intent is to undercut the price of those competitors while offering features that would be expected in all of them.
Expect rear-wheel drive, potent V8 power, and possible options like reclining rear seats with massagers and TV screens. Of course we’ll know more after the weekend, but I expect the Equus to be the final element in Hyundai’s transformation from being the butt of jokes in the early 1990s to a king of the auto world now.
That is, if people buy it. I can’t help but be reminded of Volkswagen’s experiment with the Phaeton… a terrific car that is still sold around the world, but tanked in the U.S. I still think a major reason for that failure was the giant VW logo on the trunk; very few people wanted to spend $70K on a Volkswagen.
Hyundai is smart not to plaster its name all over the Genesis or, presumably, the Equus. Who knows? Maybe this is all part of a plan to turn the Equus into an entire line of luxury cars. Toyota would have Lexus, Nissan would have Infiniti, and Hyundai could have Equus.
Of course that’s all just conjecture, but I sure wouldn’t want to spend $60K on a Hyundai Equus. Call it something like an Equus Genesis, though, give it a fancy new logo and hood ornament, and we’ve got a whole new ballgame.
Can Hyundai’s new luxury sedan succeed in the U.S.?