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Hyundai Motor to launch Genesis in China, posts record US sales

Apr 02, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)

Hyundai takes its luxury brand Genesis to China to target the high-end segment.
Hyundai takes its luxury brand Genesis to China to target the high-end segment.

Hyundai Motor Co. and sister firm Kia Corp. posted their best-ever March and first-quarter sales in the US, where the South Korean companies are working to refine their profile as makers of premium models.

In a bid to enhance its presence in the luxury segment on a global stage, Hyundai Motor said on Friday it is also taking its Genesis models to China, the world’s largest car market.

According to industry data, the two automaking units of Hyundai Motor Group sold a combined 144,932 vehicles last month in the American market, up 77.8% from the year-earlier period. Hyundai's auto sales more than doubled to 78,409 units, while Kia's sales jumped 46.5% to 66,523 cars.

The March figures represent the highest sales ever since the Hyundai auto group entered the US market in 1986.

“Strong consumer confidence, a compelling lineup and the efforts of our dealer partners all came together to deliver these results,” said Randy Park, senior vice president of Hyundai Motor America.

“With the all-new Tucson, our highest-volume model, arriving at dealerships, we will build on this momentum and continue to gain market share.”

For the January-March period, Hyundai Motor and Kia also reported their best-ever quarterly results in America, the world’s second-largest auto market.

Hyundai Motor’s first-quarter US sales increased 30.1% to 175,353 units from the year-earlier period, while Kia’s sales rose 15.7% on year to 159,550 units.

Hyundai Motor to launch Genesis in China, posts record US sales

SHIFT GEARS FROM SEDAN-HEAVY TO SUV, PREMIUM FOCUSED

The Korean duo’s combined sales in the first three months gained 22.8%, outpacing their foreign rivals in the US market. Toyota Motor Corp. posted a 21.6% sales rise, while Honda Motor Co.’s sales increased 16.2%. General Motors’ sales gained 3.7% in the quarter and Ford posted a mere 0.6% rise.

Hyundai and Kia’s combined US market share was known to be hovering around 12%, up from about 7% in the 2017-2019 period, when the Korean automakers relied on sedan-heavy lineups to boost their profile.

“After outpacing the industry last year, Kia is on the move again in 2021 and setting sales records as more new customers discover the world-class design and quality built into every one of our sporty sedans and capable SUVs,” said Sean Yoon, president and CEO of Kia’s American operations.

Strong sales of the Korean automakers were driven by sport utility vehicles such as Hyundai’s Palisade, Santa Fe and Tucson, and Kia’s Telluride and Sorento.

Kia's Telluride SUV.
Kia's Telluride SUV.

Hyundai Motor said the growing popularity of its pricier luxury brands such as the Genesis G80 sedan and GV80 SUV model also helped the automaker gain ground in the American premium car market.

Hyundai’s Genesis sales in the US soared 201.2% on year to 3,006 units in March, driven by the GV80, which was launched in late 2020.

According to J.D. Power’s initial quality study (IQS), the Genesis has ranked the highest in the US premium brand segment for four straight years since 2017. In 2020, the Genesis replaced Japan’s Lexus as the No. 1 car in J.D. Power’s vehicle dependability study (VDS), which looks at durability and issues raised by car owners.

ENTERS CHINA’S HIGH-END SEGMENT WITH GENESIS

Hyundai Motor also said it is launching the Genesis premium brand in China, where the Korean company has been struggling to enhance its sales and brand image.

The company on Friday showcased the G80 sedan and GV80 SUV – the two flagship models of its independent luxury brand – at a media event in Shanghai.

“Genesis will bolster its luxury brand image, targeting the young generation in China, a key customer group in the fast-rising Chinese luxury car market,” Hyundai said in a statement.

Hyundai Motor to launch Genesis in China, posts record US sales

The premium models’ official launch schedule will be announced at Auto Shanghai, one of the world’s largest auto shows, slated for later this month.

Last week, Hyundai Motor executives said the company will launch new models, cut incentives and adjust inventory at dealerships in China to make a turnaround there.

Hyundai has reorganized its Chinese operations since 2019 following years of weak sales, and slashed production of low-end compact models to enhance profitability.

Write to Byung-Uk Do and Il-Gue Kim at dodo@hankyung.com

In-Soo Nam edited this article.

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