US buyers steadily lured into promise for Hyundai luxury image

Hyundai may be capacity-constrained and not gaining as much market share in the United States as it was a couple of years ago, but the company continues to be practically unsurpassed at doing interesting things.

For example, Hyundai wants to leapfrog the plans of both Toyota and Honda and introduce a retail fuel-cell vehicle as early as next year in the US. There may only be a dozen hydrogen-filling stations in all of California at this point, greatly limiting the practicality of a consumer fuel-cell car, but Hyundai’s aim is to go hard and establish an unassailable foothold in fuel-cell technology as Toyota did over a decade ago with Prius to gain early dominance of the hybrid segment.

And while Hyundai has had doubters all along about its strategy to stretch its single brand across a lineup of vehicles that ranges from just $15,000 to as high as $69,000, there’s no doubting the credentials that it already has established at the high end with Genesis and Equus. Hyundai largely has managed to come through on its promise to field U.S. luxury cars that could stand up to high-end competition but do so on a more-affordable basis.

In fact, Equus just achieved the highest overall score and the best in the luxury segment in the annual Total Value Index compiled by Strategic Vision for the study’s 18th year. The research looked at nearly 46,000 new-car buyers for 2013 models between September 2012 and March 2013, and their ownership experiences, as well as customers’ views on their purchases.

Hyundai overall scored well, too, ranked as the leading brand for Total Value and getting special notice for Sonata, Genesis and Elantra in addition to Equus. And many reviewers have argued that Equus, with starting prices at around $61,000, comes very close to providing an equal match to competitors such as the Lexus LS460 that are priced at least $10,000 higher.

John Krafcik, Hyundai’s US CEO, said a few years ago that the quality of the customer experience would be key for Hyundai to make its brand and cars credible to upwardly mobile luxury buyers with Genesis and Equus. And at least so far, Hyundai has counted that as a strength.

Via Forbes