Hyundai Weighs Adding Luxury Models, Separate Brand

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Hyundai Motor Co. may add two luxury models and create a luxury brand that would likely be called Genesis to compete directly with Toyota Motor Corp.'s Lexus and other upscale makes, Hyundai's top US executive said Tuesday, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

The South Korean auto maker, which has boosted its US market share 50 percent in two years, is evaluating whether to build a four-door sports car akin to BMW AG's 3 Series as well as a crossover utility vehicle like the Lexus RX 350.

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Hyundai already sells the full-size, upscale Genesis sedan and this month will begin selling in the US the ultra-luxury Equus model, which starts at $58,000. It is unclear where else in the world the new models might be sold.

There are three scenarios under consideration. The most likely is to create a sub-brand called "Genesis," and sell the models under the same roof as Hyundai but in a separate part of the showroom, possibly with dedicated salespeople, said John Krafcik, the president of Hyundai Motor America.

Creating a luxury brand could more firmly make Hyundai a power in the US market, where it has grown faster than any other car maker in the past two years. Much like Toyota of 20 years ago, Hyundai is taking market share with reliable, inexpensive and stylish cars.

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