Despite being chided for reliability issues of late, Hyundai Motor Group has been launching some of the most interesting designs the industry has had to offer – with the Genesis brand unveiling some of the most tasteful and novel concepts we’ve seen in years. Chalk up another one with the X Convertible Concept that was unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show this week.
Hyundai Motor Group – which includes Hyundai, Kia, and Genesis – has announced a comprehensive plan for its products from 2025 onward with the key components being perpetual connectivity, subscriptions, and software-defined automobiles. It sounds benign but actually represents a major shift in the way the company operates by calling for widespread platform standardization and leaning into novel revenue streams reliant on vehicles existing on its corporate network.
In 2020, Hyundai Motor Group unveiled the Prophecy concept EV which everyone immediately noticed had embraced an alternative, almost opposite, design language from the angular 45 concept. The latter model went on to serve as the blueprint for the Ioniq 5, whereas the Prophecy has morphed into the Ioniq 6 you see before you.
Following reports that the Hyundai Sonata may not be long for this world, there have been rumbling that the fate of the Kia Stinger and K5 sedan may also be in jeopardy.
The reasoning is obvious. After years of crossovers seeing an increased share of the global market, automakers have been dumping sedans so they can sell products that come with higher margins. A sizable percentage of the population has also been sold on the theory that higher-riding vehicles are automatically safer than their road-hugging counterparts. While that is endlessly debatable between models, there are aspects of crossovers that make real sense for the modern era. Storage capacity is typically better than what you’d find on a similarly sized sedan and the lengthened suspension travel can help the vehicle absorb the impact of pothole-laden streets that seem to be cropping up everywhere.
Hyundai Motor Group has been considering where to establish its planned EV manufacturing hub for the United States for roughly a year now and is reportedly zeroing in on the State of Georgia as a final destination. It’s even said to have conducted some preliminary meetings with local leaders about the possibility of breaking ground in an area that could be strategically aligned with its existing facilities – namely Montgomery’s Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama (HMMA) and West Point’s Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia (KMMG).
Genesis is an interesting brand. Decades after Japanese automakers launched premium nameplates of their own, South Korea’s Hyundai decided to spin off one of its sedans into an entire luxury sub-brand in 2015. The resulting vehicles have been solid performers, representing excellent value for individuals in the market for something fancier. Genesis is building real luxury cars and working to differentiate those models from Hyundai Motor Groups’ mainstream products.
But it’s had to overcome plenty of obstacles. While Genesis’ product might be dunking on some of the other Asian luxury brands, achieving the same notoriety has been difficult for the fresh nameplate. The company also isn’t targeting Acura, Infiniti, and Lexus. Its sights are set on the Germans, with many vehicles already comparing favorably. But if Genesis is to become a serious rival, it needs to distance itself from the Hyundai and Kia models it traditionally shares a lot with — resulting in its very first standalone retail store in the United States.
With dealers having spent the last 12 months placing egregious markups on automobiles, it has become a seller’s market, to say the least. New vehicle transactions are currently averaging $6,000 more than they would have been in the previous annum. But prices had already climbed by $3,000 (year-over-year) in 2020 due to production shortfalls, encouraging fleet managers to scoop up every used vehicle they could find until secondhand cars became likewise overpriced.
It’s an abysmal situation for consumers and automakers have begun to realize they’ll be getting blamed if something isn’t done. As a result, we’ve started to see manufacturers publicly chiding showrooms for placing lofty “market adjustments” on new automobiles. Ford Motor Co. and General Motors have both made formal declarations that they’ll be penalizing dealers who issue ludicrous markups on products wearing their emblems, with Hyundai Motor Group issuing similar threats to greedy retailers this week.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has announced it is making its first ever whistleblower award. The U.S. regulatory body has decided to give over $24 million to a whistleblower providing information related to Hyundai Motor America and Kia Motors America. While not named by the NHTSA, it’s undoubtedly talking about Kim Gwang-ho — a South Korean engineer who flew to Washington in 2016 to squeal that his employer had been skirting safety regulations.
Armed with an internal report from Hyundai’s quality control team, Kim told the NHTSA the company was not taking sufficient action to address a presumed engine defect that increased the risk of crashes. It looks like the decision paid off for him, too. Hyundai Motor Group was struck with sizable regulatory penalties and Kim is now getting a huge payout from U.S. regulators right before the Department of Transportation proposes updated regulations pertaining to the automotive whistleblower program Congress created in 2015.
Genesis presented its vision a sustainable future on Thursday and settled upon total electrification, just like every other automaker. Hyundai’s luxury component plans to become a “100-percent zero-emission vehicle brand by 2030” but foresees the need to wait until 2025 to transition its fleet entirely over to battery and hydrogen power.
Does it mean anything? If the automotive industry’s prior promises of automated driving and EV sales are anything to go by, probably not. However, electrification has gotten a major kick in the pants over the last few years as governments have ramped up regulator pressures and the sector has been flooded with money to help the cause. So there’s certainly a chance, just like when you play the lottery.
Having distinguished itself from the rest of the Hyundai Motor Group, Genesis has been furnishing desirable luxury vehicles that are a little easier on your pocketbook than what’s on offer from Germany. But it’s still inextricably linked to its corporate family, which recently introduced the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6 to make sure everyone knows they’re not snubbing electrification. Not wanting to be left out, Genesis has revealed something riding on the E-GMP platform as well.
Unfortunately, it’s kind of hideous.
Hyundai’s commitment to performance vehicles is really starting to become impressive. Despite the brand’s decision to terminate the standard Veloster for 2022, it’ll be retaining the crackling N model in order to appease a small number of fun-loving customers. While not unappealing, the model had some quirks that likely made it less appealing to the average commuter. Packaged as a three-door hatchback prioritizing style over utility, the Veloster made less practical sense than a similarly priced sedan or crossover. We’d wager some would-be owners ultimately settled upon the Elantra or Kona unless they were in the market for the N and the backroad shenanigans it encourages.
But future customers will have an even more difficult choice ahead of them now that the 2022 Elantra N is officially on the docket. Rather than build a performance sedan that simply offers more go than the standard model, the South Korean manufacturer has opted to target the big dogs.
Kia has updated the design of its Sportage to mimic the enticing angular menace that is the K5 sedan. It’s a far cry from the overtly friendly styling of the outgoing model, though appears to be working rather well. The fifth generation of the crossover digitally debuted in Korea on Tuesday and has already garnered a notable amount of praise. Though this went exclusively toward the visual updates, as there doesn’t appear to be much changing in terms of mechanical equipment.
Kia’s official release doesn’t even mention powertrains.
Despite Kia’s obvious efforts to transform its lineup into a slew of handsome models offering more of what drivers want, it continues to have trouble with some of them catching fire. That’s likely going to be a deal-breaker for many shoppers, especially with the latest recall suggesting flames could spring up after vehicles have been turned off.
Hyundai Motor Group (which owns Kia) is requesting 440,370 examples of the Optima and Sorento be returned to dealers over a potential brake fluid leak that may damage the hydraulic electronic control unit (HECU) and start a fire. The notice comes just weeks after Hyundai asked to see 125,800 automobiles (Kona, Veloster, Elantra) and Kia wanted to check on 147,000 (Seltos, Soul) models for the same issue.
Genesis teased the rather handsome G70 Shooting Brake (wagon) this morning, highlighting the brand’s ability to design sophisticated automobiles that don’t need to compete directly with the cost of your home. Unfortunately, just about every automaker on the planet has decided that wagons have no business in America. This includes Genesis. The manufacturer made it clear that the liftback G70 was designed specifically for Europeans.
While the body style used to be the king of the road, it was supplanted by the minivan in the late 1980s. By 1996, the last American full-size wagons (Buick Roadmaster and Chevrolet Caprice Classic) were discontinued. The region had lost its taste for them and the industry has been operating under the assumption that the feeling has gone unchanged for thirty years. Aren’t we due for a resurgence?
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