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Can Genesis open new chapter for Hyundai?

Hyundai Motor vice chairman Chung Eui-sun makes a presentation on the vision of Genesis, the firm's new luxury brand, in Seoul on Nov. 4. Yonhap
Hyundai Motor vice chairman Chung Eui-sun makes a presentation on the vision of Genesis, the firm's new luxury brand, in Seoul on Nov. 4. Yonhap
Hyundai Motor has made a splash in the auto industry since the nation’s top automaker, which had focused on the mass market, officially launched its premium brand Genesis on Nov. 4 to take on the global luxury car market.

Through its artist’s rendering released Tuesday, the G90 (EQ 900 in Korea), the first model of Genesis showed it is bold and sleek enough to make car lovers speculate on its real look. The G90 plans to debut next month in Korea.

“The timing is right for Hyundai Motor to launch its own luxury brand, considering the bumps ahead,” said Kim Pil-soo, an automotive-engineering professor at Daelim University.

Despite its continued achievements in growth, a sense of crisis has flared up at Hyundai Motor throughout the year in the face of sales decrease in its home turf and global strategic markets like China.

Furthermore, Hyundai’s profit margin has also shown a downward trend. The automaker’s third-quarter operating profit fell to the lowest level of 6.4 percent since the fourth quarter of 2010.

The company made it clear on Thursday that the reason why it shifted gears to the luxury market is because of profitable growth.

“The company will invest more for the growth of Genesis in the global luxury market, which is expected to grow by 4 percent annually for the next five years,” Hyundai said in a press release.

According to the data from IHS, a global market information provider, sales of luxury cars are estimated to exceed 10 million units worldwide in 2019 when Genesis will have three models -- G90, G80 and G70.

Some industry watchers showed optimism about the future of Genesis, given that the Korean carmaker went through trials and errors to enter the luxury market over the past decade.

The automaker had originally planned to launch its luxury brand back in 2008 when it debuted its first generation of Genesis, its flagship premium sedan model, targeting the U.S. market. However, the global financial crisis in 2008 forced the company to delay the plan.

“The public appearance of Hyundai Motor Group vice chairman Chung Eui-sun at the launch event of Genesis is the strongest indicator of Hyundai’s confidence on the new brand,” an industry insider said.

The heir apparent of the automotive group, who has led projects related to new growth engines and to global talent recruitments, made a rare presentation on the vision of Genesis brand, declaring the new beginning of Hyundai Motor.

“Genesis has a competitive edge in design and technology. To become a game changer in the luxury car market, however, Hyundai needs to take more time to establish a clear brand identity of Genesis,” the professor said, pointing out the ambiguity of the “human-centered luxury” that Genesis is seeking for differentiation from existing luxury brands.

“Genesis needs to develop its own color and stories to snatch the customers loyal to other luxury brands,” he said.

By Seo Jee-yeon (