Hyundai Pins Hopes on Luxury SUVs in New Year

  • By Yoon Hyung-jun

    January 02, 2020 11:35

    Korean automakers suffered from sharply falling sales last year but are rolling out innovative new models this year. They are equipping new cars with cutting-edge technology to appeal to customers at a time of a global fall in sales of conventional cars.

    Hyundai's luxury brand Genesis releases its first-ever SUV, the GV80, this month. Renault Samsung is also rolling out a coupe-type SUV called XM3 and five other new models, while GM Korea unveils the mid-sized Chevrolet Trailblazer SUV.

    Hyundai and affiliate Kia are set to launch new versions of multiple bestselling models and eco-friendly cars. One industry insider said, "A string of new cars will hit the market this year, and competition will become more intense everywhere."

    Hyundai on Wednesday unveiled the interior and key innovative features of the GV80 and said it will be ready for release by the end of this month. It faces an uphill struggle in China, Europe, the U.S. and other key overseas markets where it simply lacks the clout of segment heavyweights Audi, Bentley, Daimler at al. 

    The GV80 will be Hyundai's flagship SUV. The price will be announced when it hits showrooms. A Hyundai staffer said, "The Genesis brand has gained recognition for rider comfort at reasonable prices just like Lexus did in the past. That will particularly help sales in North America."

    The GV80 has all the latest gadgetry. An AI program analyzes the driving patterns of owners to let the vehicle run according to the familiar pattern of the driver even in self-driving mode, while being equipped with automatic lane-changing and distance-keeping features for the first time among domestically made vehicles.

    Hyundai will roll out a smaller SUV called GV70 later this year. It will also unveil face-lifted versions of the Avante compact car, the Tucsan compact SUV and the Santa Fe mid-sized SUV, as well as an expanded lineup of eco-friendly hybrid and plug-in hybrid models targeting customers in Europe and the U.S.

    Hyundai wants to hold on to its traditional customer base with the upgraded versions, while reeling in new customers with brand-new cars.

    Renault Samsung is rolling out six new models this year, including the XM3 SUV and small electric hatchback ZOE. With the exception of a face-lifted SM6 sedan, all are recreational vehicles.

    GM Korea is now betting on the mid-sized Trailblazer SUV, which is even bigger than the Traxx but smaller than the Equinox. A GM Korea staffer said, "We will manufacture them here for export."

    One industry insider said, "The new vehicles will determine the fates of Renault Samsung and GM Korea," which are desperate to turn their performance around with the new models for their production lines. 

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