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First the Genesis sedan, then the Equus. Clearly, Hyundai is pinning its ears back and charging upmarket like Ndamukong Suh rushing Aaron Rodgers. And, like the rookie Husker-bred defensive end, the Korean automaker is making a rather successful transition to the next level. What's next? Quite possibly a sedan designed to compete directly with the benchmark entry-level luxury sedan, the BMW 3 Series. After that, Hyundai may craft a crossover to go up against the segment-defining Lexus RX CUV.

According to a new report from The Wall Street Journal, Hyundai isn't nearly done refining the image of its top-level nameplates. Hyundai USA head John Krafcik told the WSJ in an interview that the automaker is actively considering whether it should break its premium models apart from the rest of its lineup, much in the same way Honda does with Acura, Toyota does with Lexus and Nissan does with Infiniti.

While this isn't exactly news, Krafcik's level of candor is. Three options are apparently on the table. First, an entire separate dealer network could be created to sell these Genesis-branded machines, but this would be very costly. Second (and reportedly most likely), a subset of the automaker's current set of dealers could add a section to their dealerships designed to cater specifically to upmarket clients – a showroom-within-a-showroom, if you like. They could even have their own dedicated employees. Lastly, Hyundai could stick with its current scheme of training at least one salesperson on the Genesis line, leaving the dealerships alone.

Whichever way Hyundai chooses to move, don't expect any hasty decisions. Krafcik says the company will keep a close eye on the success of its Equus sedan in the States before making any judgments on its dealer network. In the meantime, expect Hyundai to unveil a new global branding strategy at the 2011 Detroit Auto Show along with a slogan to replace the current "Drive Your Way" message.

One thing is clear: this decision will shape the way forward for Hyundai's continued performance in the United States. We're keenly interested in your take on the matter, and we know the automaker's execs are listening, too. What strategy should Hyundai adopt in its bid to move further upmarket? Make yourself heard in our informal poll below, as well as in Comments.

What strategy should Hyundai adopt in its bid to move further upmarket?
Status Quo ??? Continue selling all models under the Hyundai name as it does currently 2461 (20.7%)
Create a sub-brand, possibly named Genesis, with a showroom-within-a-showroom concept 4317 (36.3%)
Spin off a stand-alone premium brand with its own dealerships like Toyota has done with Lexus 5114 (43.0%)

Photos copyright ©2010 Damon Lavrinc / AOL

[Source: The Wall Street Journal, Automotive News – sub. req.]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      Theres not much of a middle class left, just rich people who are getting tax breaks. Seems like a logical move.
      • 4 Years Ago
      bd2 you are the one who is full of crap. I know what I paid for my Genesis. Have you ever heard of taxes, fees and license that is add to the sale of an auto? It was about $2500 more on top of the price. I bet you do not even own a Genesis. This site for for comments on autos and not for you rude and miserable people to get your joys out of putting people down. Get professional help.
      • 4 Years Ago
      They do need to rebrand for luxe cars. It really does not resonate the 'Hyundai
      equals everyday AND luxe. Just as Chevy is not Caddy, Hyundai is not dual-meaning possible. They should be sepArated.
      • 3 Years Ago
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      • 4 Years Ago
      As long as it doesn't become another Acura - irrelavent badge-engineered versions of the parent company's budget cars.
        • 4 Years Ago
        BD2, I realize you know very little about anything outside your Hyundai walls, but you as usual are completely wrong.

        The RDX is not sold in Japan.
        The MDX is not sold in Japan.
        The TL is not sold in Japan.
        The ZDX is not sold in Japan.

        Those Acuras are designed, engineereed, and built in the USA for North America.
        • 4 Years Ago
        So here in the USA, please list for us the Acura equivalent of the Honda product only differentiated by the badge!
        • 4 Years Ago
        Aside from the fact that all Acuras are badged as Hondas in Japan (same for Infiniti w/ Nissan and until 5-6 years ago w/ Toyota/Lexus) - how 'bout the TSX (JDM/European Accord) and in Canada, the CSX (JDM Civic)?
      • 4 Years Ago
      Frankly, in the luxury market, the dealer can make or break a sale. I was pushing hard on a colleague to get a Genesis Sedan, but she opted for an M37 instead, mostly because the dealer did not have the tact and personality suited to luxury customers. I fully support the economic consideration of keeping the current dealerships, but Hyundai needs to make sure the luxury customers get the experience they expect.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I distinctly remember Hyundai stating that they did not want to make their own lux brand because of the cost of starting up another brand, this would go against that statement and doesn't really make much sense.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Hyundai already has the "showroom in a showroom" to sell Equus, doesn't it? They need to spend time/$ fixing the broken suspensions first...and coming-out with a good lease. I, personally, was very excited about the Genesis - until I drove it. Not up to my E-class - and certainly not S-class. The rear suspension is just squirrely. Seems the Equus suffers from the same based-on Motor Trend's recent review (January 2011).
      • 4 Years Ago
      That logo up there looks sharp! I'd much rather have that on my car than the italicized H. Hell that logo looks as good as any luxe brand out there.

      That said I really am not sure making a separate brand is the answer. Alot of issues come up having 2 separate brands. Do you fit the nice but affordable car at the top of the economy brand, or at the bottom of the luxury brand? Do you inflate the price to make it seem more luxury, or do you take out some amenities and put it in the ecomony brand? There ends up being unnecessary compromise when you could just have one solid brand.

      Now, with that said, I think Hyundai, could pull a game changer with a name change.

      Yes I said it...

      Simply change the name and the branding of all Hyundai's.

      Two major reasons for this:
      1) sounds too close to Honda
      2) past stigma with it being a cheap brand

      Some people might be a little sad at first that the cheap little brand that made it to the big leagues changed it's name, but that's what happens when you become rich and famous. You cant help but take on a new identity. It's like a stage name.

      Do any of you know who James Osterberg is?

      Okay now does the name Iggy Pop ring any bells?
        • 4 Years Ago
        I agree with the previous poster. Why not expand some of the existing Hyundai Dealerships and buy out some of the nicer old Chrysler/Oldsmobile/Saturn/Pontiac Dealerships and close down some of the smaller Hyundai dealerships? In these new larger dealerships Hyundai can have an area that sells and caters to the Genesis line of products with their own salespeople or some hybrid sales persons. Their service department could also have an exclusive Genesis maintenance guy who oversees all Genesis service and maintenance.

        I really don't think Hyundai should launch their own luxury dealerships and rename it. I'm all for renaming the luxury cars but who are they trying to fool? It's still a Hyundai! I feel like this is more honest and perhaps it will even speak to the customers. I don't know if that makes sense...

      • 4 Years Ago
      If you see Paris Hilton, The kardashians, JLO, Beyonce, AROD, DIDI ETC. driving
      a hyundai, well i will claim that Hyundai has arrived.Thats pure and simple.
      • 4 Years Ago
      oh my god.This what all the automaker are praying for. Next is a F1 team. companys
      never learn and each one search his own tomb.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Your post is a bunch of crap since $40K is what buyers of the V8 Genesis (and not the V6) are paying.

      Nice try, tho.
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