By on March 21, 2018

Kia Stinger Genesis G70 - Images: Genesis, KiaYesterday, TTAC covered news of the launch of a second-generation K900 model in the United States at the upcoming New York International Auto Show and Mobility Conference. Upon considering the K900 and its potential for success, some questions arose about the three different badges on offer from the Hyundai-Kia conglomerate, and what we might do with them.

Where does Hyundai go from here?

This question of branding was spurred on and expanded by a tweet from an Internet Person, who suggested Kia needed a luxury brand with which to offer high-end models like the K900 and Stinger — a Genesis of its own. That would leave Hyundai-Kia with four brands on North American shores, all vying for their own slices of the sales pie. Does a fourth marque make sense? Would Kia have better success with a separate luxury brand?

Or are three brands just the right amount? One might argue that luxury offerings from Genesis allow Hyundai to venture into the higher end of the market, picking up sales it would otherwise miss, utilizing luxury entries which have their main established sales base in South Korea. The Kia brand is then free to offer different, alternative-type vehicles (Stinger, Soul), albeit without the same level of clout as Genesis. This doesn’t seem like a long-term answer, for both market expansion and volume reasons.

Perhaps a culling is in order. All offerings from Hyundai, Genesis, and Kia are variants of the same thing — a body style here and a platform there, utilizing the same components across brands. The argument could be made for some kind of a merger, Datsun-Nissan style. All Hyundai and standard Kia vehicles are merged into Hyundai. The remaining Genesis lineup receives any formerly Kia vehicles which are over a certain price point. Consolidate dealers, make the product offerings simpler, save Hyundai money at the end of the day. Any enthusiasts of Kia quickly convert to Hyundai enthusiasm.

Expansion, continuation, or contraction: which is best for Hyundai-Genesis-Kia?

[Image: Kia/Genesis]

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85 Comments on “QOTD: How Do You Manage the North American Hyundai-Genesis-Kia Triumvirate?...”


  • avatar
    Sub-600

    The Stinger seems to be the odd man out, I think it’s a little pricey for it’s intended demographic. The younger crowd might find it too dear and the older crowd will probably stick with Detroit 3 muscle. The K900 and Genesis appear to be a logjam, they need to separate them a little more.

    • 0 avatar
      arach

      I disagree. I think they have no interest in selling Stingers or K900s.

      Your false assumption is that they are trying to sell them in volumes.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      The Stinger is doing fine in sales (getting close to the sales figures of the 4 Series and the A5/S5), but probably could do better if there weren’t still Kia dealerships asking a premium over MSRP for the desirable powertrain/color combos and if Kia USA had priced the Stinger closer to what Kia Canada had done.

      The new K900 is a disappointment sheetmetal-wise (Kia should have gone with another fastback body-style), but then again the K900/K9’s primary market is the South Korean market and there, the buyers of such luxo-barges tend to be conservative.

      Hyundai’s parent company only holds a minority stake in Kia Motors, so in many ways, the 2 see each others as competitors.

      Doubt Kia will spin off a luxury brand any time soon as Kia simply does not have the financial resources as Hyundai to do a full luxury lineup, much less build-out a new, separate dealer network.

      Hyundai and Kia will continue to compete with each other in many segment, but Kia has wisely eschewed certain body-styles – for example, opting for the Soul over something like the Veloster and a CUV body-style with the Niro instead of something like the Ioniq.

      Generally, the Kia counterpart (where they compete directly) will be sportier (and offer a more luxurious interior via the SX-L trim), but Kia will not have a hard-core performance line like Hyundai has with the N.

  • avatar
    IBx1

    put them all in the crusher

  • avatar
    Dilrod

    I guess it depends on the relationships between the brand’s management. Even though they share a lot, but they must have some motivation for keeping things separate.

    BTW, if you want to see some cool Hyundai product placement, watch the Korean police mystery series “Stranger” on Netflix. Everybody drives shiny Hyundais of different models that carefully glide into each scene. When they are in traffic, I’ve noticed the same white Kias tailing them as background.

  • avatar
    jack4x

    I think there is room for all three still:

    Kia makes the most sense as a young person’s brand, a more complete version of Scion. Keep the Soul and the Niro. Give them the Veloster, the entry SUVs, maybe a small off-roader, maybe a sporty car smaller than the Stinger, etc. Nothing costing over $30k.

    Hyundai can be the standard brand. Full lineup of cars and SUVs, except subcompacts which are left to Kia. Optima, Stinger, Sorento, etc. become Hyundai only. Any move into the truck market should be Hyundai.

    Genesis should not stray from its luxury mission. Plenty of other brands offer dynamic handling, keep the focus on comfort and long distance cruising. This is currently an underserved niche. Offer extra features and warranty for a lower price than competitors. Nothing smaller than the G70. A couple of large SUVs/crossovers, quickly. Keep the V8 as long as possible, this will increasingly be seen as luxury in itself. Basically it seems like Genesis is on the right track now, I wouldn’t deviate much from it.

    • 0 avatar
      arach

      I agree wholly.

      Kia is the young budget brand. There’s a great market for it, and ample opportunity. Why deny this market? why worry about “elevating your brand”? OWN this market. no one else is.

      Hyundai – I fully agree. Its the mainstay. Its Toyota.

      Genesis- I also fully agree. This is your high end offering, but instead of trying to “be” BMW, be what the others won’t- be comfort, and luxury, and almost old-school cadillac. there’s a lot of buyers here. Be there for them.

      In other words, the three would essentially be a lifetime brand. Kids come into Kia, graduate to Hyundai, and then some will aspire for and evolve to genesis.

      Genesis will skew older and wealthier, Kia will skew younger and less affluent.

      Perfect market placement, strong compliments, strong company.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        I see Kia more as a VW/Mazda competitor, versus a brand for someone with no money. Hyundai has the latter market covered.

      • 0 avatar
        npaladin2000

        “Kia is the young budget brand. There’s a great market for it, and ample opportunity. Why deny this market? why worry about “elevating your brand”?”

        Because there’s little to no money in it.

      • 0 avatar
        ericb91

        This is literally EXACTLY how Toyota set up Toyota/Scion/Lexus. We all know how Scion panned out. But I echo the sentiment above that Kia is a much more viable entry-level brand than Scion. I agree as well that the three-brand approach is best. And Genesis DEFINITELY needs a SUV or two as soon as possible because that is absolutely where the market is going. I’m frankly stunned they don’t have one yet.

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        Kia and Hyundai are competitors and while Kia’s offerings are generally sportier where the 2 compete head to head (say, Sportage vs. the Tucson), Hyundai is the one with the performance line (N).

        The highest Kia will go for the time being is with the equivalent of its GT-line (which is similar to the upcoming N-Sport trim).

        Also, can’t exactly say that Kia is the “budget” in comparison to Hyundai when Kias generally tend to have the better interiors and offer higher-grade interior option with its SX-L trim (which only Mazda and Ford Europe with the Vignale trim offer in similar fashion).

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      ^^ What these guys said.

      I’m not a fan of the Stinger. It seems like “peak Kia”, having finally taken the venerable Kia styling too far. The car seems too large. I’d prefer they offer a sporty thing sized between the Forte and the Optima.

    • 0 avatar
      redapple

      A clear – sharp marketing plan here.
      Very good.

    • 0 avatar
      pinkslip

      For a more budget-minded brand like Kia to work (in theory), the OEM would need to share as many platforms and components with more profitable products as possible. But then I think a $52k Kia Stinger based on a Hyundai is crazy.

      I’d think it would be best to keep Kia offering models like the Soul, Forte, Optima, Niro, Sportage, Sorento, Rio. Nothing over $32K starting (so no Optima plug-in). Don’t offer a minivan or more expensive sedans. If you’re going to sell the Stinger (as the flagship/halo), only offer the four banger in two trims. Give Kia the Veloster.

      Then Hyundai gets the Sonata (including plug-in), Azera, Kona, Tucson, Santa Fe (no Sport version- integrate with Kia Sportage), Elantra, Ioniq, and their version of a Stinger with the 2.0T and 3.3T and a couple nicer trim levels. Hyundai sells the Sedona minivan.

      Genesis keeps their offerings and adds 3-5 crossovers to appease the market demand.

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        Why give Kia the Veloster when it’s Hyundai which has a performance line (N)?

        And besides, Hyundai and Kia are pretty separate when it comes to deciding what vehicles to develop.

        Just b/c Kia developed the Stinger doesn’t mean that Hyundai (or Genesis) would have been interested (in fact, Hyundai/Genesis wouldn’t have been interested since they already have the G70 and G80).

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      I was going to say “crossover all the things” but this is a pretty solid strategy. I do think the Stinger should stay a Kia. Make it the “fun” brand.

      Genesis needs to get aggressive about bringing their crossovers to market as well. Truthfully the Genesis/Equus should have been crossovers, at least in the US. The sedans are secondary at best in the luxury market.

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        Have to keep in mind that the primary market for Genesis (right now) is still the Korean market where larger luxury sedans still reign supreme.

        As for the Genesis CUVs, they will hit the lots starting next year (GV80 being the 1st) and while it has taken longer than what is optimal, they are sitting on new platforms (the platform underpinning the GV80 will also be used for the next gen G80).

    • 0 avatar
      slow.brick

      I agree with your assesment and market positioning for each of these brands, although the necessity of a separate brand for a budget-conscious younger audience is debatable. Ford occupies that market with the Fiesta and Focus, and has no problem simultaneously selling premium crossovers and SUVs with the same badge.

      “Any move into the truck market should be Hyundai.”

      Good luck with that. Toyota, a brand that has (agruably) exponentially greater clout with the American consumer than does Hyundai, has been selling the Tundra for nearly two decades and has only managed to earn a few percent of the market. Nissan owns even less of the market.

      I’d say Hyundai and Kia ought to do what they do best, and that is selling competent, high-value sedans and SUVs.

      • 0 avatar
        la834

        Nissan owns a tiny percentage of the pickup truck market because they’ve never had a strong entry.

        I’d say:

        Hyundai – full line of mainstream cars and crossovers. Toyota, basically.

        Kia – a bit more adventurous and sporty, though still mostly moderately priced. A halo car like the Stinger is fine as it helps keep the Scion/Geo cheapskate image away.

        Genesis – needs to cover the same territory as Lexus and BMW’s most popular models; some emphasizing luxury, some performance, some a mix of both. Obviously needs some crossovers and soon. In the longer term, will probably need a higher-end EV sedan/hatch and SUV to take on the Tesla S and the coming wave of German luxury electrics. I say “probably” because it is too soon to see if these become popular enough to support BMW, MB, Porsche, Audi, Jaguar, and everyone else at once. In time I’m convinced they will, but not sure upon intro circa 2020. But not having one will make Genesis look behind the times tech-wise.

      • 0 avatar
        jack4x

        My comment about the trucks was referring more to the Santa Cruz concept/whatever traces of that small truck would make it to production.

        I agree it would be foolish to try to fight the domestics in the 1/2 ton market. But it would certainly be interesting to see Hyundai give it a try!

  • avatar
    Brian E

    You can’t merge Kia and Hyundai. They’re separate companies, despite the shared product development. And Hyundai doesn’t need fixing at this point. They’ve got it sorted between their regular brand and Genesis.

    If Kia wants to sell discount luxury in the US, they should just let the car’s brand overshadow their own. Everybody knows most of these will end up debadged anyway, so don’t try to fight it. Come up with a cool scorpion badge or something for the Stinger and hide all the Kia logos. Give the K900 an actual name too – to steal Sigivald’s idea from the Accord Hybrid article, call it the Nemesis. Don’t worry about using these cars to lift perception of the Kia brand; that’s going just fine with the Optima and Sorento. Just get them out there, including into the hands of Uber drivers and rental fleets, and see if anyone’s curious enough to find out where to buy one.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Agreed. They share a lot of running gear, but not all. I have often preferred the Kia interiors and dash icons, which are totally different from Hyundai’s.

      Also agree on the K900 – it needs a proper name.

      • 0 avatar
        TMA1

        The Stinger actually does have it’s own badge in Korea, including “Stinger” in script across the back. Both were replaced with Kia badges for the US, which is unfortunate. I love seeing individual models with their own branding.

        K900 is just adapted from K9, which is consistent with all the other Kia car names in the home market – K3 (Forte), K5 (Optima), K7 (Cadenza).

        • 0 avatar
          npaladin2000

          “K900 is just adapted from K9, which is consistent with all the other Kia car names in the home market – K3 (Forte), K5 (Optima), K7 (Cadenza).”

          If they really want to be considered somewhat premium, they should go with the letter coes here instead. K2, K3, K5, K9, make the SUVs KX-3, KX-5, etc etc.

        • 0 avatar
          bd2

          The new K9 will also adopt the “E” badge (which I think is a bit silly) which adorns the Stinger in Korea.

          Kia could go a good way in fixing the problem for the US market by changing its emblem and coming up with a new, more elegant Kia badge (Hyundai’s emblem could use a rework as well).

      • 0 avatar
        TMA1

        The Stinger actually does have it’s own badge in Korea, including “Stinger” in script across the back. Both were replaced with Kia badges for the US, which is unfortunate. I love seeing individual models with their own branding.

        K900 is just adapted from K9, which is consistent with all the other Kia car names in the home market – K3 (Forte), K5 (Optima), K7 (Cadenza).

      • 0 avatar
        la834

        At least K900 is better than what they call the car in its home market – K9. Talk about for the dogs….

    • 0 avatar
      IBx1

      No scorpion badge allowed for blobby generic automatic-only kias. Those stay on Abarths where they belong.

    • 0 avatar
      conundrum

      @ Brian E

      Exactly, Kia and Hyundai are separate companies financially, and Kia is doing a lot better than Hyundai across the world. Hyundai seems to be in a freefall, blamed by all and sundry on lack of CUVs. They’ve had three for years, but the darn things just didn’t sell. Calling the medium and large ones the same name has been silly, but whatever the reason, the vehicles have been sticking on lots. Forget the lack of supply story. The names have changed a bit recently, but seem no less confusing. If I were watching billions slide down the drain, I’d change names for real differentiation really quickly. Nissan eats their lunch with the Rogue and Qashqai. Then there’s Honda, Toyota, Ford, GM etc. all doing better.

      Kia hasn’t made decent door locks for years. My niece’s 2013 Soul is a nightmare, and it seems the lock/module design has been useless for well over a decade. The cost to repair is also crazy high. Easy to google.

      Personally I’d avoid both H and K. After two decades of being almost as good as the mainstream, it’s time Hyundai in particular strove to be better and evolved a less confrontational, bounce off the walls screaming management style.

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        Problem was that both Santa Fes were old compared to the competition and the 3rd row was a bit tight compared to competition like the Explorer, Pilot, Pathfinder, etc.

        The Escalade seems to do perfectly fine despite coming in 2 sizes.

        We’ll see how Lexus fares with the 3-row RX (if it struggles, likely will have to do more with how the 3rd row is only suitable for children) and VW with Atlas coming in a 2nd 5-seater configuration.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    I think the lines between the Hyundai and Kia brands is pretty thin. Seems like a great deal of overlap. Genesis seems to have a pretty clear mission without really pulling from the lower brands.

    Kia/Hyundai/Genesis has a very Ford/Mercury/Lincoln feel to it overall. They are better differentiating the sheet metal, but still a lot of redundancy between Hyundai and Kia. Killing Kia probably makes more sense than a second luxury brand for higher end Kia models.

    • 0 avatar
      quaquaqua

      There’s definitely redunancies in the Hyundai/Kia overlapping, but it’s not nearly as bad as the Ford/Mercury stuff of yesteryear. Heck, Ford and *Lincoln* were pretty much the same product until quite recently.

      But Hyundai has established itself as Toyota-esque. Nearly everyone goes into a Toyota dealer for a Corolla, Camry, or RAV4, and nearly everyone goes into a Hyundai dealer for an Elantra, Sonata, or Santa Fe. Kia’s advantage is their best-selling car is often the Soul. That makes Kia very different. And it’s not just the cheap Kias that are selling, a few years ago the Sorento was also one of their top-sellers. And lo and behold, Kia is sometimes selling more autos than Hyundai month-to-month. They’re doing that in part due to unique vehicles that have style. There’s absolutely nothing cool or stylish about a Hyundai (or most cars, really), so don’t underestimate that perception.

  • avatar
    arach

    I can’t help but think “What the Heck is Wrong with Kia”. I think Kias management is clueless. They don’t even know what they want to be.

    Supposedly Kia is supposed to be an “upscale” hyundai. Its supposed to be the GMC to Hyundai being Chevrolet.

    Problem is? any American will LAUGH their rear ends of. Do you realize Kias are more expensive and better optioned than their Hyundai counterparts? I almost guarantee you don’t know that because the thought is ludicrous. All Americans know Kias are the cheap kids cars.

    Kia needs to EMBRACE it. Instead of trying to be what its not, let Hyundai be the grown-up-version of Kia. Get the kids. Be a mature scion. get rid of the K900. Its stupid. it HURTS what your brand should be.

    Keep the stinger. THAT should be your flagship… but by golly put the dang manual in it. You’ll sell like 10 of them… but thats OK because it will make it “cool”. the magazines will talk about how cool it is. The enthusiasts will love it. Thats the message your sending to kids. You won’t sell a lot of them, but thats OK because its a flagship. It’ll sell you more Velosters.

    You get Kia in the right place and it will tone down the subtle competition between Hyundai and Kia. It’ll also allow hyundai to put the options currently reserved for Kia. Admit that your 40 year old isn’t diving a Kia unless its because they are reliving their use… the 40 year old chooses hyundai, so let them have their stupid around-view monitor and stuff thats currently reserved for Kia. Those buyers won’t buy the Kia brand even if you try to pretend like kia is “upscale”. its not. Put a kia badge on a BMW 7 series and its still not a nice car… instead of fighting this image, embrace it.

    That will make Kia rich, Hyundai Rich, and Genesis succeed. I will try to buy stock in all three.

    The biggest problems with the triage are:
    1-Kia’s perception problem… of themselves.
    2-Having the flagship genesis share 99% with a low end kia is embarrassing and shooting Genesis in the foot. Could you imagine if the BMW 7 series was 99% the same as a ford? Oh yeah, that happened before… it was called Jaguar
    with Ford and it flopped.
    3- I get they are separate companies, but if you share 90% of your platform with each other, its pretty stupid to compete so headstrong against each other. Pick out different external competitors and use that shared platform as a strength, not a weakness
    4- They aren’t traded on the US Stock exchange as an ADR which also stinks, but I don’t think most car people will care.

    • 0 avatar
      Nick_515

      I largely agree with you Arach. The market logic for decades now has been towards consumer individualization. Sharing platforms and powertrains makes it more feasible for Hyundai/Kia/Genesis to differentiate at the consumer level. I agree with many comments in this thread that Kia is more of a young person’s brand, for people that are more Mazda3 than Corolla. Hyundai remains the Korean competitor to the Japanese Honda and Toyota. Genesis remains the brand for people that don’t like to mingle with the riffraf. (Though the G70 is something else, compared to its bigger siblings).

      This does mean that an upscale brand does not make sense for KIA, and it does mean they have basically gotten the brand differentiation mostly right in the US.

      All three have cars that I’d absolutely consider. Kia has the Soul, Hyundai has the Elantra Sport/GT, and Genesis has the G70. I think my bigger step would be a wagon, so I wouldn’t do either fullsize or bigger, or any higher CUV/SUVs whatsoever.

    • 0 avatar
      la834

      I used to think of Kia as a bottom-barrel economy car – which of course it was – but that perception has completely changed in the last decade as Kia has quite successfully moved more upscale. More than a few times I saw an Optima and assumed it was from a luxury brand until I looked more closely. They are really pushing the Stinger too – my local mall has a Stinger store that looks much like the Tesla store on the other side. Some of us may be old enough to recall when BMW was best known for cheap, tiny cars like the 600, 700, and Isetta. I myself remember when Audi’s best seller in the States was the Fox (aka 80) which was a VW Dasher/Passat with a different roofline and definitely not something you’d think of in the same breath as a Benz or Cadillac. Brand images can change over time, and what Kia was 20 years ago is not what Kia is now.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        It used to be, you bought a crappy Kia or Hyundai and it looked like a crappy car, right off the showroom. But the price was right.

        They figured out their cars can look like any up scale car, they can charge more, but besides “perception”, what makes them any different, or less crappy?

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Actually, Kia came out with the near-premiun SX-L trim b/c buyers wanted something even nicer than the SX trim (in large part due to the success of the previous gen Optima); that’s the reason why the Optima had a higher ATP than the Sonata and even would beat the Accord from time to time.

      Also, in most markets, Kia lags behind in sales, but over in Europe, the 2 have the same sales success (despite Kia having fewer Euro-specific models) in large part due to Kias generally having nicer interiors, esp. for crossovers where the Sportage is the better seller (unlike here where the Tucson is beats the Sportage in sales).

  • avatar
    Jack Denver

    Everyone seems to think that it is necessary for Hyundai/KIA to have clear differentiation but you don’t – all you need to do is sell a lot of cars. Even in the glory days, Buick vs. Olds vs. Pontiac, Dodge vs. Plymouth, Ford vs Mercury, were never really that clearly differentiated despite there supposed positioning – there was a lot of overlap between the brands. People like having a choice and if their choice is to shop at both the Hyundai and Kia dealerships and pick one, that is a win/win for the parent company. Having twice as many outlets for their product is a GOOD thing as long as there is enough volume to support both.

    On paper it sounds great to have sharply defined brands with clear images but for mass market brands it can be counterproductive – you are going to be foregoing a lot of sales because it doesn’t fit your supposed brand image. Sure a luxury brand (Genesis) can’t be selling rebadged Elantras without hurting their brand (cough, Cimarron, cough) but the general brand (KIA) can sell rebadged G70s without hurting anything – if anything the flagship product lifts their brand image.

    • 0 avatar
      npaladin2000

      ” Even in the glory days, Buick vs. Olds vs. Pontiac, Dodge vs. Plymouth, Ford vs Mercury, were never really that clearly differentiated despite there supposed positioning – there was a lot of overlap between the brands.”

      Yeah, tell me, how well did that work out for Olds, Pontiac, Plymouth and Mercury again? They’re all dead, and Dodge and Buick seem to be on their deathbeds in the US.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Hyundai and Kia will survive. The former is the “reliable transportation at a decent price” brand, the latter has a sportier, more hip image.

    The brand I question is Genesis. If they can crack the luxury market, then God bless ’em, but that depends on how many stupid faux-luxury crossovers – I mean, premium CUVs – they can introduce, and whether those sell or not. Still, I like the brand’s styling direction, and I will be interested in how the G70 comes out.

  • avatar
    npaladin2000

    Hyundai is not about enthusiasm. Hyundai is about basic solid transportation. Hyundai is essentially the Korean Toyota. That’s part of the reason they needed the Genesis brand, because Hyundai by itself wasn’t aspirational enough.

    Kia, on the other hand, is proving with the Stinger that they seem to be aspirational enough on their own. Kia has looked more to become the Korean version of Mazda or VW, a slightly premium more euro-sporty brand. They’re so focused on this that they have a special C-class car just for Europe (though the Soul is based on its platform at least). So they’re actually well positioned as-is.

    Merging the two brands wouldn’t happen because they’re still seperate companies anyway, though they have mutual stock ownership. But even if they could merge, it would be a bad idea. The two have different focuses and fill different niches. The biggest example is their halo cars: Genesis vs Stinger. But you also see it in the exterior styling (Hyundai’s Asian-style swoopiness versus Kia’s Euro-style straight and strong lines). Plus their unique approaches brought us the Veloster on the one side and the Soul on the other, the Ioniq vs the Niro. They compete not only with other brands but with each other (in certain ways) and we the customers benefit. So leave well enough alone.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    “How Do You Manage the North American Hyundai-Genesis-Kia Triumvirate?”

    Answer: mismanage, just like it has been

    • 0 avatar

      No suggestions then?

      • 0 avatar
        slavuta

        Of course not. If I knew how to manage car company, I would be doing that job. May be they should ask Carlos Ghosn.

        Different thing, if they ask what to do with a specific car that is not selling well. Then, I can tell from my “consumer perspective” why I wouldn’t buy it and why I think others don’t buy it.

        With car companies, who knows? Look at Volvo. You would think, with such long history in US they would learn something about market here but apparently – opposite. In 2000 they sold 123,178 cars, and in 2017 – 81,507. And this is when car market relatively blooming.

  • avatar
    airporthaircuts

    Technically, there’s nothing to fix. Hyundai and Kia are two separate companies. Hyundai owns about a third of Kia, and both automakers co-develop things like platforms, engines, transmissions, and other big ticket items. Kia has the Stinger and the K900 because they also spent money developing that RWD platform. The Korean Domestic Market is big enough that both can sell competing large luxury cars. It’s a dynamic similar to when different GM divisions competed with each other.

    • 0 avatar
      npaladin2000

      Close but not quite. GM brands all had the same ownership, they were all 100% owned by GM and its shareholders. Hyundai and Kia, as you pointed out, have different ownership of their shares, so there’s an actual reason for them to compete with each other for sales, since different people get different percentages of the profits, depending on which one comes out ahead. Given the mutual stock ownership, I won’t pretend to understand who wins what when, but it does differ. ;)

    • 0 avatar
      SC5door

      Oh look! Someone who did their homework instead of claiming “it’s all the same company”.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    I always thought they were the same Korean car with different nameplates like Chevy and Buick do in America. Cheapie Korean cars, cheapie American cars. Anywhoo; “No money down and no payments for three months” or “We’re tired of paying floor plan on this dog, the longer it hasn’t sold (for many reasons) the more your discount will be!” H/K will run ads locally, GM nationwide. All of them will muddle through claiming to be “just as good at a much lower price”. Confused? Refer to their ad campaigns.

  • avatar
    Fred

    Has any value or volume brand been able to go up market? Heck even Mercedes had to resurect the Maybach name.

    • 0 avatar
      arach

      Hyundai has.

      10 years ago they were the ultra crappy car for people so broke they couldn’t afford a bicycle. Today they are neck to neck with other mainstream cars.

      Next is probably VW. I mean VW used to be synonymous with cheap, but now they are at least on par with Ford and chevy. some may say they are more on par with buick and acura?

      If we brake down the market from low end to high end and make it up as say 50 “levels”, a number of brands have moved a few levels. No brand has ever jumped like 10+ to my knowledge.

      • 0 avatar

        The improvement of Hyundai and Kia has been marked and rapid. Consider if you would their *best* sedan offering circa 2003: the XG350.

      • 0 avatar
        Fred

        VW has a few really nice cars, but nothing that I would consider semi-luxury. That’s what both Hyudai and Kia are trying to do, move up to the luxury area. Toyota, Nissan and Acura did it, but only after establishing seperate brands and dealerships.

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        VW was more premium 15-20 yrs ago (something that Mazda is trying to do).

        Over the past decade or so, in an attempt to increase sales, VW has “dumbed down” many of their offerings for the US market.

  • avatar
    tallguy130

    Genius overall feels like an odd endeavor in an already crowded market. They share too many Hyundai parts and just don’t feel that special. To make a go of the luxury market at this point I feel you need to bring something, be it style, value, performance,etc. Genius cars appear to be “fine” but I don’t think that will do the trick.

    Hyundai, easy answer to be a full line player in the same group as Honda, nessan, Toyota, Ford. One thing to fix, work out what the heck you want with this N line stuff vs. sport models. Should be one and the same, and actually be supported by equipment that makes things go faster rather then just look faster.

    Kia is the hard one to fix. It still suffers under the perception of making junk even if that is no longer the case. Willing to take chances and do something different and that’s great but they are high if they think this K900 stuff will work. I would continue to be bold with the product planning while not going north of 35k. Keep the quality up and let the reputation change and in time they will grow market share or at least keep a profitable slice. Being a little different can pay off in a very vanilla world.

    • 0 avatar
      Middle-Aged Miata Man

      The continued market perception of Kia as cheap crap is the brand’s most significant challenge, and while that image is a self-inflicted wound it’s also rather outdated.

      The only way to beat it is to continue producing better vehicles, and occasionally swinging for the fences with statement products like the Stinger and K900, and to a lesser extent upmarket vehicles like the Cadenza and Sorento SXL.

      Cadillac has much the same problem with market perception, admittedly in a significantly different segment. I’d argue Kia has been more successful in combating it within its target audience.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Um, Lexus shares many parts with Toyota; same for Infiniti with Nissan and even more so with Acura and Honda.

      Genesis is doing fine with its 2 RWD sedans (considering how the market is for luxury sedans).

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    3 brands is 2 too many. Most H/K cars are perfect substitutes for one another. Genesis seems monumentally stupid in the era where BMW/MB/Audi are willing to pump out crazy numbers of cars and models and then subsidize the crap out of their leases. If you don’t want that, Lexus. Most H/K vehicles seem to be sold as generic “Car” models you see in insurance ads. They sell on price and warranty and maybe on features for the dollar, which is a pretty lousy place to be if someone decides to undercut you. I don’t have a problem recommending their vehicles to someone who just needs A Car, but I have no idea why the average enthusiast wastes any time thinking about them.

  • avatar
    slap

    It’s the dealers that need fixing. Hyundai and Kia dealers *generally* have a bad reputation.

    • 0 avatar
      arach

      OMG I cannot believe how AWFUL the Hyundai and Kia dealers are.

      My first thought is “10 year warranty sweet!”

      My second thought is, “But who will actually service it?”

      I bought a hyundai. After 4 trips and 5 months they still have been unable to fix a..

      Get this…

      BLOWN SPEAKER!

      Yup, wish that was a joke but its totally not. A blown speaker proves too challenging for TWO hyundai dealers.

      Fortunately it takes $30 and 15 minutes for me to do it myself…

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      Reminds me of the song

      Sleazy hotels
      Like living in hell
      The girl’s on the hustle
      With nothing to sell

      Replace “hotels” with “Hyundai”

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Hyundai and Genesis are fixable.

    Hyundai needs to concentrate more on product. After a very strong run of improvement, the last generation of most of its products (Accent excepted) feels like treading water.

    Genesis needs *UVs yesterday. It’s doing a lot of things right but in today’s anti-sedan climate a lineup of three sedans is going nowhere. Hyundai should have started it with one sedan, two CUVs, and a big SUV.

    Kia is a harder problem. It’s got a credit criminal image and IMO the worst dealer network of any mainstream brand (beating out even Volkswagen). Efforts to be sporty and design-centered have produced some decent cars but really haven’t turned around the image. The hamster campaign sold a lot of Souls but just reinforced the problem; it feels like something Money Tree would put on TV.

    Honestly, I think a new logo would really help. The current KIA logo screams “Cheap!” at the top of its lungs. Beyond that, I think it needs to tighten the screws on dealers in terms of customer service, and advertise on design.

    • 0 avatar
      SC5door

      In terms of service, KIA dealers are ranked right right in line with Toyota with both being ranked lower than Chevy and Buick. Most dealers seem to be remodeling showrooms, although at a snails pace.

    • 0 avatar
      Middle-Aged Miata Man

      Kia definitely needs a new logo. I mentioned in another post here recently that I received a manufacturer survey last year asking my thoughts on the current branding and interest in a new logo, so at least they’re considering it.

      I’ve purchased from two Kia dealers in my area, and have had both my Cadenzas serviced by a third. FWIW all those experiences to-date have been fine.

      • 0 avatar
        npaladin2000

        They really should just re-adopt the alternate-K logo that third parties have been slapping on their Kias for a while now. May as well take advantage of it already being out there.

        • 0 avatar
          Middle-Aged Miata Man

          Agreed, and that’s what I have/had on both of mine.

          • 0 avatar
            aquaticko

            I dunno, it just looks too much to me like a Mazda logo with a messed-with aspect ratio. I’d love to see something a bit more obscure but symbolic. Honestly, though, I think even just losing the circle around the current logo would be an improvement, visually, without losing the recognition (such as it is) of the cars as Kia.

  • avatar
    Jack Denver

    The reason they are dead is not because of image but because their cars sucked in relation to other offerings available in the market at the same price. Having overlapping products that were largely identical and that were sucky meant that instead of having 1 poor selling product now you had two or 3 sucky products and you could no longer justify the expenses of having multiple channels each of which didn’t have enough volume to justify their existence.

    On the other hand if you have great product in relation to price then it doesn’t hurt to sell the roughly same product under different names. In the JDM they have all kinds of crazy channels where they sell the same product in different stores.

  • avatar
    Peter Gazis

    KIA should give its minivan and half of its dealerships to Hyundai and become All electric.

    Hyundai should focus durability. Build its vehicles to last 200,000 miles without completely falling apart.

    Genesis (see Hyundai)

  • avatar
    mmreeses

    being realistic. it’s too late for a quick fix.

    Genesis: botched roll-out destroyed whatever novelty factor there was in being the new kid on the block.

    Tesla, Lexus and Audi are the only breakthrough luxury brands of the past 30 years v. the field. G80 is a fine car but it’s not a Tesla S.

    Hyundai-Kia: they both suffer from hit-miss dealers and being a channel stuffer for subprime lenders.

    It’s a zero-sum game. A sale for Hyundai or Kia or Genesis means delivering an experience that’s better than Acura, Honda, Toyota, Infiniti at the same or lower price.

    That’s a tall order.

  • avatar
    EX35

    Genesis still hasn’t rolled out their CPO program despite there being 100s of used G80/90s on the market.

  • avatar
    TW5

    Hyundai/Kia have wedged themselves between a rock and hard place. Fifteen years ago their cars were still poorly designed and literally falling apart at the seams and fasteners. It was impossible to own one without the 100,000 mile warranty protection. This ownership paradigm continued in the CUV lineup until about 8-10 years ago.

    Hyundai/Kia have improved all aspects of their vehicles. Everything people see and touch is well designed and understated. The mechanical guts of the car are classic Japanese in concept; therefore, reliable. The turbocharged models are the exception. They seem to be relatively reliable, but they probably won’t match their NA counterparts.

    Despite the improvement in quality and reliability, the companies’ not so distant pasts have put them in a bad spot during the current perfect storm.

    For instance, Hyundia/Kia routinely sell their cars at a discount. Today, cars are sold on 84-month financing. What difference does $2,500 make over 84 months? $25/month? Most people will pay that premium to go Japanese.

    Also, CUV’s are hot, but Hyundai/Kia’s legacy of building CUV scrap metal still existed in this decade, which means it will probably take a generation before any of their CUV’s will match Subaru sales figures. The Big 5 (Rogue, RAV4, CR-V, Escape, Equinox) are totally out of reach.

    The lone bright spot for Hyundai/Kia has been the Elantra. The model once achieved critical mass by using conservative styling and traditional Japanese powertrain at a reasonable cost. They also offered the best mpg, which excited buyers during an era of $100 oil.

    Imo, the only way to rehabilitate the brand is to focus on fuel efficiency. Forget the $2,500 discount, and put a hybrid powertrain in everything a generation early.

  • avatar

    Ford is concentrating on SUVs and Trucks because they can no longer compete with nimble companies like KIA. It did not take long for the Korean automakers to surpass Detroit.

  • avatar
    Veeg

    This is easy. Hyundai is Chevy. Focus on the CUVs and basic cars. They’re for people who don’t care about cars.

    Kia is Pontiac. Still a Chevy but a little more flavor. Focus on the Soul – it sells and is pretty much the only car out of Korea with any flavor at all.

    Genesis is Cadillac. Need to get the Escalade on line quickly or it’s never gonna work.

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