Can Hyundai be a U.S. luxury car?

Jeremy Hobson May 26, 2009
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Can Hyundai be a U.S. luxury car?

Jeremy Hobson May 26, 2009
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Steve Chiotakis: Hyundai’s eyeing some deep pockets with its new entry this summer, the Equus. As Marketplace’s Jeremy Hobson reports, the Korean carmaker’s motivations are going far beyond the luxury car customer.


Jeremy Hobson: Hyundai may be one of the world’s largest automakers, but:

Alexandar Edwards: Here in the U.S., there are many folks that look at Hyundai and see that as a low-end product.

That’s Alexander Edwards, who heads the automotive section at Strategic Vision. He says at more than $70,000 a pop, the Equus will compete with luxury cars made by Mercedes and BMW.

Jeff Schuster at JD Power and Associates says Hyundai’s hope is that the Equus will lift the entire brand’s image.

Jeff Schuster: It’s really looking at moving from what really has been perceived as the economic choice in the various segments that they’ve been playing in, which tended to really focus on the small basic cars.

The Equus has been selling in overseas markets for years. But Alexander Edwards says attracting a high-end U.S. consumer won’t be easy, because a lot of the buying decision comes down to prestige.

Edwards: When I get in this vehicle, am I going to be James Bond? Am I going to be Batman? Is it going to be able to magically transform me into that ideal self I have in a luxury vehicle?

Hyundai’s been building up to this point in the U.S. with rollouts of increasingly fancy automobiles like the Genesis and the Santa Fe. The question, Edwards says, is can it gild its image without alienating its low-end consumer base?

In New York, I’m Jeremy Hobson for Marketplace.

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