Hyundai intends to distinguish between its upscale models and its mainstream vehicles and to accomplish this, the Korean automaker is considering a plan to market its premium vehicles under a Genesis sub-brand, not unlike what Toyota has done with their Lexus branding.
Dave Zuchowski, executive vice president of sales for Hyundai Motor America, said that this proposed move would replace Hyundai's round "H" badge with a new badge on rear-wheel-drive premium vehicles, such as the Equus, Genesis sedan and Genesis Coupe. These upscale vehicles would get the Genesis badge with an alphanumeric naming system. Mr Zuchowski clarified that Hyundai has not made a decision about the rebranding exercise yet.
At this moment, the company is studying if the usage of the Hyundai badge would hamper or improve sales. Anyway, the combined sales of the Genesis and Genesis Coupe increased by 13% in 2011 to 32,998 units, as compared to a year ago. Additionally, in the first year of production, Hyundai sold 3,193 units of its US$60,000 Equus sedan. That’s 893 more than the company expected. So the question is really whether Hyundai should adjust a formula that has proven to be relatively successful.
On the other hand, Zuckowski admits that even though Genesis sedan and Coupe sales have increased by 13% in 2011, many buyers have chosen to replace the Hyundai logo with the optional Genesis winged badge. Creating a sub-brand is not always a recipe for success. An example of a sub-branding failure is Mazda’s Xedos nameplate that was applied to the European Mazda 6 in 1992. The plan was give up 5 years later.