Hyundai Motor's Genesis to Become Standalone Premium Brand

  • Hyundai plans to have premium line-up of six models by 2020
  • Four models to be newly developed, including large SUV

Hyundai Motor Co. will spin off its luxury Genesis sedan into a separate standalone premium brand as South Korea’s largest automaker seeks to move upscale and compete against the likes of Toyota Motor Corp.’s Lexus.

The carmaker plans to have a line-up of six models, including four new ones, under the Genesis brand by 2020, the company said Wednesday. The four new models will include a mid-size sedan, a large sport utility vehicle, a mid-size SUV, a sports coupe, and the brand will initially use existing sales channels to increase efficiency, it said.

The announcement comes two weeks after the company posted a seventh consecutive quarter of profit declines as a slump in deliveries to China, Russia and Brazil overshadowed gains in SUV sales in the U.S., Europe and South Korea. The Seoul-based company is counting on its new premium brand to help boost profits.

“Using the Genesis brand name will have a positive impact as the Genesis has proven its quality and worth from the first  generation model and has gained popularity in Hyundai’s key markets,” said Shin Chung Kwan, an analyst at KB Investment & Securities Co. “The new brand will help increase profits and improve the brand image of Hyundai.”

Shares of Hyundai rose 1.9 percent to 165,500 won, its highest level since Oct. 2, at the close in Seoul. The benchmark Kospi advanced 0.2 percent.

The new generation model of Hyundai’s flagship Equus luxury sedan will be renamed G90 when it’s unveiled in December, and the Genesis sedan will be renamed G80, the automaker said. A new rear-wheel drive platform based mid-size sedan, which the company plans to start selling in 2017, will be named G70, and the three remaining new models will be unveiled by 2020, it said.

Hyundai has hired Luc Donckerwolke, former chief designer at Bentley, to enhance the premium brand’s design characteristics, the company said. Donckerwolke, who will join the automaker early next year, has been in charge of the Bentley’s design since 2012, and has crafted vehicles for Audi, Peugeot SA and Lamborghini.

Plant deliveries of Hyundai’s existing premium vehicles, including the Genesis sedan, Genesis coupe, and Equus, rose 1.8 percent in the nine months through September from a year earlier, according to company data. Exports from its plant of the Genesis, which is currently only produced in South Korea, jumped 47 percent during the period.

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