Hyundai to Launch Premium Car in America

By: Lauren Woods

Hyundai, the fast-rising Korean automaker, confirmed last Monday the launch of its very first premium car in the United States late in 2008. The announcement came fast on the heels of the release of "Concept Genesis" sketches. The concept car will make its debut on 5 April at the New York International Auto Show (NYIAS).

The automaker announced that the upcoming premium, dubbed as the BH, will be launched in Korea during the first half of 2008. Subsequently, it will be introduced in the United States in the year. The Korean automaker also confirmed that the premium car will be using the powerful V8 engine which is mated to to boost utmost oomph and performance. For the US, the volume projections are set at about 20,000 units annually.

The new Concept Genesis sedan is a rear-wheel-drive vehicle that appears to have close semblance with the Equus and the forthcoming i50. The automaker also is expected to change its naming scheme to alphanumeric. Hence, experts in the industry expect that the Genesis will be eventually transformed into the i50. It is also anticipated that the premium car would be "noticeably larger than the front-drive Azera."

The fourth-generation Azera, Hyundai's current range-topping sedan with a front-wheel drive, is the most luxurious sedan that the automaker is selling outside of the Asian car market. But that status could be overturned by the upcoming premium car. The Concept Genesis is aimed at testing the waters in North America for the viability of luxury product lines from the automaker.

No Hyundai official is linking Concept Genesis and the BH model. But experts say the two vehicles have a connection. Sketches of the Concept Genesis reveal that it comes as a four-door sedan with an upscale appearance that also resembles Mercedes Benz and BMW vehicles.

The automaker's venture into premium territory is a virtual requirement in the American market. Other fast-growing foreign automakers like Toyota, Honda and Nissan, have entered the segment after years of selling economy cars in the US. However, Hyundai did not confirm whether the company will open a premium division patterned after the Lexus, Acura and Infiniti brands.

The overall design of the premium car is simple yet elegant. It is given the Toyota Camry-like grille blended with regal headlights. The rear portion of the car continues the classy theme with chrome strip that links the taillights.

The Concept Genesis is aimed at widening the consumer base of the Hyundai and wowing new type of auto shoppers. With European car appeal and the V8 power, it is expected the premium car will be a sure hit.

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