1. You will now make it to the second date:
Hyundai has finally come into its own with its styling direction. One only needs to look as far as the newly redesigned Sonata to witness sexy curves not unlike that of the successful Mercedes CLS Coupe which was no doubt its inspiration. Hyundai used to be known for copying the front of a Lexus and the back of a BMW and calling it a day, but now it is building a distinctive image for its cars. The Hyundai line-up also has more design cohesion, you can now tell that all the models are produced by one company.
2. The salesmen no longer have to cross their fingers during the test drive:
Hyundai used to be the industry joke when it came to quality control. No longer. Hyundai has been steadily moving up the J.D. Power and Associates Vehicle Quality ratings over the years and the Genesis sedan won the 2009 North American Car of the Year Award. Not too shabby. It recently has become bold enough to enter the prime luxury space where the big fish from Germany and Japan play. Road & Track‘s recent Driving Impressions article explains that the new Equus, its $55,000 flagship sedan comes with an iPad as an electronic instruction manual. Other optional extras include reclining airline-style rear seating and car service. Real progress not just for the company, but for the whole segment.
3. You can actually remember their model line-up:
Hyundai has finally lengthened its product life-cycle and has kept model names unchanged long enough to build recognition and credibility. It used to be the case that every 2 to 3 years they would discontinue models and introduce replacements with completely different names that were supposed to compete in the same segments. The XG350 would be replaced by the Azera and before you knew it, you weren’t quite sure which car was in your garage. But now names like the Sonata and Santa Fe are sticking around and improving upon their forebears.
4. Their sports cars are sporty:
With every generation, Hyundai’s sports coupe is becoming a more serious performance machine. The current Genesis Coupe is not only very sleek and modern, it can now hustle. If Hyundai is serious about competing with the likes of the other foreign giants such as Toyota and Volkswagen, it needs to have sports cars with superior technology and engineering. Hyundai needs to invest further into its motor sports program to build performance credentials and to bring racing technology to its regular models. It currently partakes in rally racing and the Pike’s Peak Hill Climb, but both those races are off-road and it isn’t really an outdoor oriented brand the way Jeep or Subaru is. It should dig into its deepening corporate pockets and create a Touring Car team or a NASCAR team which would certainly give it more patriotic vibes.
The Road Ahead:
There is currently a disconnect between the high-quality product Hyundai offers and the status of the brand that is attached to the bodywork. While the product has improved by leaps and bounds over the past decade, the brand image is still muddled and trailing behind. It is such a problem that its two luxury offerings, the Genesis sedan and the Equus are both sold without the Hyundai logo for fear of negative brand associations. No other luxury car-maker does this. Hyundai either needs a major re-branding campaign or a logo redesign. Why not create an elegant logo to increase prestige instead of hiding behind generic model specific logos? Or if it believes there is value in the logo for the rest of the line-up, why not create a luxury marque such as a Lexus or Infiniti on par with its luxury aspirations?
Hyundai would also build brand equity by creating the same cohesion in its model names that it has developed in its styling. The Santa Fe and Tucson SUVs sort of have a theme going, but then it disappears once you get to the Accent, Elantra, and Genesis. Then there is the Equus which is supposed to sound luxurious but just doesn’t fit a car of its price. Enough random, obscure words! Just look at how successful the Sonata and Genesis have been. It is probably because they finally took the crucial step of entering consumers’ consideration sets.Share