Hyundai Australia says its new Genesis luxury sedan will serve as a technological flagship to lift the image of the brand locally, though it has denied the model won’t be profitable.
The Genesis has gone on sale in Australia for the first time, after the first-generation model was built in left-hand-drive only.
There are option packs that can make the car as expensive as $82,000, though even the base model comes with a highly impressive list of standard features.
They include autonomous emergency braking, multi-speed radar cruise control, auto high beam dipping, lane departure warning (LDW), hands-free boot access, 9.2-inch touchscreen with satellite navigation, power front seats with heating, leather seating, and a Lexicon 17-speaker audio system.
Hyundai admits other models in its range would make more money but that it wouldn’t have introduced the Genesis as a loss-maker just to make a statement.
“I wouldn’t say it’s going to be one of our most profitable cars,” said the company’s chief operating officer, John Elsworth. “We’re very conscious about keeping the price below the luxury car tax threshold. The profitability overall will depend on the mix of models [we sell], but we’re certainly not losing money.”
The Genesis is not only the company’s most ambitious car yet in terms of its engineering and technology.
Elsworth said annual Genesis sales could be “anywhere up to a 1000 vehicles” in a segment where the market-leading E-Class sold in 1451 units in 2013. The 5 Series and Holden Caprice were the only other two models to break the four-digit barrier, followed by the Jaguar XF (874), Lexus GS (494) and Audi A6 (493).
“It’s not a segment that’s necessarily growing as much as others,” he said, “but we think it’s a segment we can get a share in. No one thinks it will be easy conquesting the established brands.”
The company has done more research on the Genesis than any other Hyundai, and Elsworth says it found there is a group of buyers that would consider a luxury car that didn’t wear one of the traditional brand badges.
“There are a group of buyers who the badge is important to them but we believe through our research that there are a whole bunch of people who aren’t badge conscious. We then need to put an offer in front of them that will make them consider us in a segment where we’ve never tried before.”
Marketing director Oliver Mann said luxury car buyers could be divided into three categories: the traditionalist who buys a large Australian rear-wheel-drive sedan, the badge devotees (who would typically opt for one of the German brands), then finally thoughtful self-starters – “astute thinkers” which he says the company is targeting.
“Astute thinkers are buying large Australian sedans, medium Japanese brands, and mid-sized European models,” said Mann. “These are people not into driving SUVs. And they’re not into projecting status or wealth.”
The Genesis features only one actual Hyundai badge – the H logo on the boot lid. Otherwise a winged Genesis logo is positioned on the bonnet and on the car’s steering wheel.
It doesn’t feature any Hyundai badging in its domestic market of Korea, but Hyundai Australia said it never considered that option.
“It doesn’t make sense to not put the Hyundai badge on the car,” said Elsworth. “[Genesis is] here to demonstrate how far we’ve come. It’s in our range to build perception of our brand, to change the way people think about Hyundai.”
Hyundai says it would be comfortable seeing the Genesis taking a place in the limousine hire car market.