I have vague memories of the first time I heard the word “Lexus.” I wondered if a new car brand created by Toyota and given a funny name could actually compete with established juggernauts.
We all know how that turned out. Today Lexus is one the top-selling luxury brands in America and has established itself as a benchmark toward which other automakers strive.
It’s been 26 years since the birth of Lexus and now another new luxury nameplate will launch. Genesis, a brand to be launched by Hyundai, brings some of the same questions today that were asked of Lexus almost three decades ago: Can a mass-market automaker create a luxury brand able to successfully compete with the established companies?
Hyundai launched the Genesis sedan back in 2008 and there’s been speculation ever since that the South Korean automaker was testing the waters for a standalone brand. It’s taken a bit longer than expected, but Hyundai announced last week that Genesis will indeed launch, with six new models, by 2020.
Automotive News says,
The new subbrand will be made up of just two models initially: the current Genesis sedan and an all-new full-size Equus set to debut next spring. Those models will be renamed the G80 and G90, respectively, for the 2017 model year.
That new naming strategy leaves plenty of room for expansion both up and down market. Future vehicles will probably include a midsize SUV, additional sedans, and, we hope, a sports coupe. As of now, the superb Genesis Coupe will not be carried over to the new brand, so hopefully it will be re-named and remain a Hyundai.
The Genesis brand brings up an interesting juxtaposition. It wants to compete with the world’s best luxury cars but will operate on a similar value proposition as Hyundai. Most luxury buyers are perfectly able to afford a BMW, Audi, Lexus, or Mercedes-Benz, so buying a car without the panache just to save a few bucks doesn’t seem likely.
To fight that, Genesis is thinking younger.
Hyundai’s vice chairman said Genesis will target upscale buyers who are “savvy, affluent progressives, who are reasonable, progressive and young.”
Can it work?
I hope so, but part of me wonders if Hyundai waited too long. The Genesis name is already attached to Hyundai, and it’ll take a remarkable effort to turn the name into a respectable luxury brand. To help in that effort, I’m assuming that Genesis vehicles will come loaded with technology and features that are optional in other vehicles, which might make the choice a little easier.
Would you consider Genesis over another luxury brand?