Besides targeting segment competitors like the BMW 5 Series, Audi A6 and Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Hyundai’s new Genesis flagship will also be gunning for a significant slice of the premium limousine market.
With supply of the Holden Caprice - a traditional favourite of the hire car industry - set to dry up after Holden’s Elizabeth assembly plant shuts down in 2017, Hyundai will look to capitalise on demand for a new premium large sedan.
Genesis pricing has yet to be finalised, but the projection is that it will likely fall well within the $50-60k bracket, making the big sedan an attractive buy for top-end taxi operators.
“The limo market is a massive market,” Hyundai Australia Chief Operating Officer John Elsworth said to the media.
“We’ve been thinking about it since we decided to bring in the car. It’s a big opportunity for us to sell the [Genesis] sedan to the Limo market.
“They’re great advocates for the product when you get it right, the limo drivers. And they can really influence people who sit in the back of their cars.
“We’ll push pretty hard [to chase hire car sales].”
But while limo drivers will likely be easily swayed into the Genesis, Elsworth admits that converting existing luxury car drivers into Genesis owners will be a tough task.
“The prestige segment is pretty broad, it goes from the Calais all the way up to Benzes and BMWs,” he said.
“The challenge is that it’ll be very difficult to get people out of Benzes and BMWs.”
“But there’s lots of conquest business because we don’t already sell this sort of car, so you’ve really got to poach [customers] from other manufacturers.
“And I think the car that gives us the confidence that we can do this is the Santa Fe.”
“There’s not that many people that would ever have thought the Santa Fe would have sold as many as it has at the top end. Half of what we sell in Santa Fe are over $50,000.”
Ultimately though, the Genesis won’t be a big money-spinner for Hyundai Australia.
With sales volumes projected to be low and profit margins thinned down in order to maintain an attractive price point, the Genesis will only make a small contribution to Hyundai Australia’s bottom line.
“It’s not a big volume market, and we’re a new brand in a small market. It’s logical that we won’t have huge volume aspirations,” Elsworth said.
“This is not a car that we intend on maximising profitability. It’s a brand statement. It has to be introduced to the market at the price, the right value equation.
“If that means we minimise our margin, so be it.
“But across the volume, it’s not a dramatic impact on our local business because we’re not trying to sell hundreds and thousands of them.”