When Hyundai launched their flagship Equus in the U.S. market last year, a lot of skeptics doubted that the Korean automaker could capture any sales in the premium luxury market. After all, Hyundai wasn’t even launching the Equus as a unique brand; instead, buyers would set up a showing through their local, Equus-certified Hyundai dealership. Worse, the Equus had no identity of its own, and wasn’t even branded as a Hyundai on the outside of the car.
Conventional wisdom also said that premium luxury buyers purchase vehicles as much to feed their ego as to transport them from place to place. Brands like BMW, Audi and Lexus have a certain air about them, while Hyundai seems more than a little out of place with the country-club, weekends-in-the-Hamptons set. Surely, the Korean upstart known more for low-priced transportation couldn’t be serious about taking on the world’s leading luxury makes, could they?
The Equus has been on sale in the U.S. for less than one full year. In that time, it’s managed to rack up a 5 percent share of the premium luxury market, and it’s buyers tend to come from other Hyundai vehicles first (23.4%), followed by Lexus (20.8%) and Cadillac (6.3%). That’s a win-win for Hyundai, since they’re providing a halo vehicle for brand-loyal customers to step up into, while providing a price-attractive alternative to luxury car buyers. The numbers don’t show Hyundai pirating significant sales from Audi, BMW or Mercedes yet, but that’s just a matter of time.
The newly released J.D. Power and Associates APEAL Study (short for Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout) looks at customer satisfaction 90 days after the sale. The survey looks at not only quality and performance, but how the vehicle is perceived by its owners. For years, the BMW 7 Series had a lock on the number one spot, usually followed by the Audi A8. For 2011, it’s the Hyundai Equus in the number one position, followed by the BMW 7 Series and the Audi A8.
There will be a lot of engineers in Germany and Japan burning the midnight oil to make sure this doesn’t happen again in 2012. I’ve got some bad news for Audi, BMW, Lexus and Infiniti: the Hyundai Equus has been revised and improved for 2012, so don’t expect sales to go anywhere but up.
Source: J.D. Power