By on October 17, 2010

Launching a new car division is tough. A monumental task, you might say. And it has to be executed just right. I’ll give you an example, look at Lexus. When Lexus was launched in the United States, it was a hit. It didn’t take much to separate American drivers from their Cadillacs, Lincolns and Buicks. Now compare this to the European launch. Lexus never really took off. Why? Well, a good reason would be that when Lexus starting exporting to Europe, Germany was making luxury cars to a high standard already, so Lexus was nothing special. Hyundai knows this.

Car and Dealer reports that Hyundai wants to bring the Genesis to the UK. Not a problem, you might say, just get it to European standards and off you go. Not so fast. It’s not as simple as that. You see, Hyundai want to bring the Genesis over to the UK, as a Genesis, not a Hyundai. That’s right; they want this car to be the “tester” of a luxury marque in the UK. “Lexus did a great job in the States, but it never really took off in Europe,” said Tony Whitehorn, Hyundai Motors UK’s managing director, “But the premium route is certainly interesting and it’s one that could work for us with Genesis in the UK.”

Trials are taking places around Europe to see whether European drivers can accept the Genesis as a luxury car in its own right. Ironically, none of these tests are happening in the UK because there are no right-hand drive cars available and there won’t be until around 2012. With regards to how the launch of Genesis would have to be executed just right, Mr Whitehorn was fully aware of the task.

“We would have to be very careful as there isn’t actually a successful model in the UK where a mainstream manufacturer has made a success of premium, ” said Mr Whitehorn, casually forgetting about Volkswagen and Audi, “It would be very brave of us, but despite being a difficult route to market, I think it would be the best one for Genesis.” Well, good luck. I can’t see Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi giving up one of their biggest markets easily.

Now here is one thing to remember: When Lexus entered the U.S., the Germans were jittery about a low cost luxury opponent. There is a lot of reverse snobbery in Europe. Ostentatious consumption (Maybach comes to mind) is out, smart shopping is in. Women proudly pronounce at parties that they bought the outfit at H&M. Take Hyundai’s expertise at building good cars at low cost and couple that with the new free trade agreement between South Korea and the European Union about to kick in, Germany may have a formidable opponent on their hands. Viel Glück, Deutschland.

No, you won’t get it in two-tone. Picture courtesy motorauthority.com/

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

18 Comments on “Hyundai Targets The Germans On Their Own Ground: In The UK...”


  • avatar
    Tstag

    The problem for Lexus, Infinity and Genesis is that they are trying to sell the European consumer the equivalent of a manufactured boy band. Wheras Jaguar, Range Rover, BMW, Mercedes and Audi can claim a great heritage.
    The big German 3 are also generally perceived as never having made a bad car. Whilst Jaguar and Land Rover have been through the dodgy years of build quality but come out the other side emphasising style, design and a heritage based in motorsport or offroading.
    Infinity sold about 20 cars last month in the UK. So Hyundai is being very brave trying to take on the UK first. They deserve credit for that, but ultimately I still predict failure. European premium car makers are in a nice place now and if they can continue to convince China that European is better than Japanese (not a hard sell there) then life will only get harder for the non Euro brands.

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    Ooops!

    We saw Ford bashed on this for its new Lincoln plan.

    And I suggested Hyundai did well with one store, two philosophies.

    Now Hyundai turns around and wants to do in England what Ford wants to do here.

    Does Hyundai get another pass from its true believers?

    • 0 avatar
      JuniperBug

      Hyundai is talking about taking a unique car and platform and selling it as its own upscale brand. Lincoln sells Fords with more chrome, meaningless alphanumeric names, and a higher sticker. How are these two strategies comparable?

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      While I admit Ford has cheaped out on the Lincoln line by just fluffing up Fords, they want to change.
      Ford has met with Lincoln dealers to discuss FUTURE Lincoln cars and the new approach to the line.
      They have demanded the dealers fork up some investment as well to make the NEW premium look/brand possible.

      TTAC had some B&B bash Ford for this.
      Others thought it about time.

      I pointed out USA Hyundai was succesful with two philosophies together under one roof…the affordable and the luxury. And they are planning to build on this with the Equus in the same building as the Sonata. I was suggesting it could be done both ways.

      Now Hyundai wants to do the one brand, one building plan in UK. It is my personal opinion Hyundai gets ovations for everything they do on TTAC.
      In Europe they are trying to fix a problem similar to one Ford has here. Change if you need to change.

      But the reality is they have failed in the UK.
      So, like Ford here with Lincoln, they want to fix the problem.

      PS.
      Nice bike.
      Oh, and I thought the B&B would like to see this article by Hyundai.
      Very interesting and informative.

      http://forums.myspace.com/t/4797843.aspx?fuseaction=forums.viewthread

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      While I admit Ford has cheeped out on the Lincoln line by just fluffing up Fords, they want to change.
      Ford has met with Lincoln dealers to discuss FUTURE Lincoln cars and the new approach to the line.
      They have demanded the dealers fork up some investment as well to make the NEW premium look/brand possible.
      TTAC had some B&B bash Ford for this.
      Others thought it about time.
      I pointed out USA Hyundai was successful with two philosophies together under one roof…the affordable and the luxury. And they are planning to build on this with the Equus in the same building as the Sonata. I was suggesting it could be done both ways.
      Now Hyundai wants to do the one brand, one building plan in UK. It is my personal opinion Hyundai gets ovations for everything they do on TTAC.
      In Europe they are trying to fix a problem similar to one Ford has here. Change if you need to change.
      But the reality is they have failed in the UK.
      So, like Ford here with Lincoln, they want to fix the problem.

      PS.
      Nice bike.
      Oh, and I thought the B&B would like to see this article by Hyundai.
      Please read…
      Very interesting and informative.
      http://forums.myspace.com/t/4797843.aspx?fuseaction=forums.viewthread

  • avatar
    NoChryslers

    The UK auto press has been really hard on Hyundai, regardless of how much their cars have improved.  Maybe it’s not such a good idea.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Evidently, not that hard due to Hyundai’s record breaking sales in the UK.

      The biggest problem for the Hyundai is that the Genesis is just too low of a volume of a seller in which to base a new luxury marque around; Hyundai should wait until they have the smaller Genesis based sedan ready (w/ available diesel engines, of course).

  • avatar
    PaulieWalnut

    What killed Lexus was the lack of a diesel until it was too late. Hyundai better take note.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    I don’t understand the UK automotive market very well, but what I have read is that a goodly number of the premium vehicles sales are actually to employers as company cars are a fairly common white collar perk. Is this correct? If so, how does that effect the prospects for a Genesis stand alone brand?
    As to TrailerTrash’s comment visa-vis Lincoln. I’m on record saying that Ford is doing what it must with Lincoln if that brand is to recover.
     

    • 0 avatar
      hal

      As I understand it an employee is given a budget and freedom to choose the car – it comes down to what price point Hyundai can offer. Are they really trying to compete with BMW and Audi for executive sales? My guess they are trying to pull sales from Mondeo or Accord level salesmen and managers who would not previously have considered Hyundai because it would be embarrassing at work or the golf club car park.

  • avatar
    Tstag

    Aside from the fact UK car buyers have a low opinion of Hyundai (justified or not) Brits don’t tend to go for the automotive equivalent of a manufactured Boy Band.
    European buyers want marques to have a history, they want to know Jag’s history of winning at Le Mans or Mercedes history as the silver arrows. They don’t want an expensive lump of steel that will depreciate on their drive. At present Jaguar dealers are offering 700 pounds above recommended trade values to anyone who’s prepared to sell them a low millage Jaguar XF (the current star performer) in it’s market sector. Can you imagine anyone offering the same deal in a couple of years time for a Hyundai?

  • avatar

    If this concept implies that an entirely different dealer/shop network is going to be set up, this will fail, I presume.
    On the dealer’s side, to live on luxury cars only certainly is no reliable basis for business, independent on the make. For a customer, this certainly is a hassle, too. Expensive, thin dealer network, with corresponding know-how.
    I simply don’t get the idea of establishing a special “luxury brand”.  Build a convincing luxury car and sell it anlongside your other products. Otherwise you might imply your other cars are crappy.

  • avatar
    Sugarbrie

    That is what VW should have done with the Phaeton is the USA (its own brand).
     
    The Phaeton was a scaled down Bentley sold at a bargain for what you got; which VW marketed as if it was a fluffed up VW.
     
    VW really blew it.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      The problem with the Phaeton is that, in North America, VW has Audi for exactly this purpose.  The Phaeton, nice as it was, was also totally useless here.
       
       

    • 0 avatar
      hal

      imho the biggest problem with the Phaeton was the gulf between it and the Passat. the B5 Passat shared a platform with the A4 and they both sold well – the logical step for VW would have been to make an A6 size VW instead of making the leap to an A8 size car.
      but there was nothing logical about it – it was a passion project and it kicked ass
      psar – not sure why you would describe the Phaeton as useless here? do you not like large sedans?

    • 0 avatar
      Sugarbrie

      The Audi A8/S8 is an alternative to the BMW 7 Series or Mercedes AMG.
       
      The Phaeton was all luxury, more in line with Lexus LS and the standard Mercedes S Class.
       
      So they could have done fine with both cars.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Authors

  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • J & J Sutherland, Canada
  • Tycho de Feyter, China
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Faisal Ali Khan, India