Hyundai Motor is considering moving up the release dates for the Equus and Genesis 2013 versions as sales of the 2012-versions of the premium models have been sluggish.
The recently sagging sales of the two models were attributable to a growing popularity of affiliate Kia Motors’ K9, a V8-powered luxury sedan, which was unveiled in early May.
With many consumers acquainted with the news of the K9’s debut and active in pre-orders, Hyundai has seen sales of the Equus and Genesis fall over the past few months.
Some market observers point to import brands’ aggressive sales battles with Hyundai Motor in large segments. Foreign manufacturers are actively marketing via price cuts on the back of free trade agreements with the European Union and the United States.
The nation’s largest automaker posted 11 percent and 21 percent year-on-year falls in cumulative sales of the Equus and Genesis, respectively, between January and April.
Further, sales of the Genesis stood at 1,611 units in April, down about 40 percent from a month earlier. Sales of the Equus fell below 1,000 units last month, posting a 28 percent year-on-year drop.
According to Hyundai Motor executives, the new Genesis will be introduced as early as next month.
“We’ve scrapped production of the Genesis 2012 model. We are fine-tuning the release date of the 2013 version,” a company spokesman said. He added the timing would be June or July.
An automobile analyst said the key issue is the exterior designs of the new Genesis, stressing that both elegant and futuristic designs have appealed to local consumers in their 40s and 50s.
The new Equus is expected to make its debut in the third quarter.
The upgraded version will be the first facelift model in more than three years since the current Equus designs were unveiled in March 2009.
Kia Motors’ K9 is the latest product of the company’s evolving design approach, carrying its signature radiator grille, bold “high-tech luxury car” style LED headlamps and classic design echoes in its voluminous hood.
The bold profile with its simple character line and the innovative rear appearance with its high-tech LED combination lamps, chrome decoration and bumper-integrated muffler, aim to create a whole new level of luxury car design.
Kia Motors has been successful in attracting Korean consumers by launching cars with innovative designs after the company scouted Peter Schreyer, known for helping to create the New Beetle and the Audi TT, in 2006.
Kia’s K5 and K7 have closely been competing with Hyundai’s Sonata and Grandeur. Kia’s Sorento R and Sportage R vie with Hyundai’s Santa Fe and Tucson ix.
In addition, Kia is set to launch the K3, an upgraded model of the Forte sedan, to compete with Hyundai’s best-selling Avante sedan.
Meanwhile, import brands are striving to attract owners of Hyundai and Kia’s large-segment sedans.
BMW Group Korea has cut car prices by 1.43 percent, which is about 900,000 won ($760) off the BMW 528i sedan priced at 67.9 million won.
Mercedes-Benz Korea made price cuts of 1.44 percent, or 1 million won, to the E300 Elegance sedan.
Audi Korea cut 1.41 percent, or 700,000 won, off the A4 2.0 TFSI Quattro and Volkswagen cut prices for the Golf and CC models.
Other European players, including Peugeot and Jaguar-Land Rover, followed suit in the local market.
Under the Korea-U.S. FTA, General Motors, which owns GM Korea, recently decided to slash the prices of all Cadillac models by up to 3.5 percent, reflecting the tariff cut.
Ford Motor has lowered the price of the Fusion Hybrid by 4.7 million won to 42.9 million won.
Chrysler Group, which owns three affiliated brands ― Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge ― is striving to diversify models to expand its presence here.
While the import car industry has been recording robust sales in Korea, Hyundai-Kia and three other players ― GM Korea, Renault Samsung Motors and Ssangyong Motor ― that have factories in Korea are suffering a drop in sales at home.
By Kim Yon-se (email@example.com)