Mike Stevens | May 8, 2009

With the US-market 2009 Hyundai Genesis and Genesis Coupe models proving to be the modest sales success the Korean carmaker had hoped for, its American dealers are clamouring to get hands-on with the top-tier Korean-market 2009 Hyundai Equus.

In the hunt for a luxury car that will help take the fight to the European marques, Hyundai has been looking very closely at exporting the Equus to North America. And with the big saloon set up for left-hand-drive, it’s already halfway there.

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To assist in the decision, Hyundai headquarters in Seoul will ship 100 Equus’ to US dealerships in mid-2009. It’s hoped that in doing this, dealers will be able to collect feedback from the buying public.

Hyundai has high hopes for the Equus. With 6021 Genesis sedans sold so far in 2009, according to April figures, and reportedly pulling buyers (if you believe the hype) from entry-level Lexus and BMW 3 Series models, Hyundai is hopeful that the same switch can be achieved at a higher level.

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But while there is promise for the Equus in the US market, Jeff Schuster, Executive Director of Forecasting for J.D. Power and Associates, said Hyundai needs to consider if it might be trying to stretch the brand too far. With models in the Hyundai range starting under US$15,000, it would seem a valid concern.

Milton Pedraza of the Luxury Institute however said that buyers of upmarket vehicles now look for intrinsic value as much as badge reputation, and believes that there is room for a lower-priced fully-featured luxury car on the US market.

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We’re unlikely to see the Equus on Australian shores. As with the Genesis and Genesis Coupe, converting Hyundai’s luxury and sports models to right-hand-drive and launching a marketing campaign would make selling the business case to Hyundai bean counters a tough call in the current global economic mess.

[via USA Today]

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