Sleek, sophisticated, spirited

Updated May  27, 2011

Hyundai brings Prada on board to add class to fleet

By Kim Tae-gyu

Before the New Millennium, Hyundai Motor was barely a blip on the radar screens of the global automobile industry as the Seoul-based outfit was regarded as a producer of affordable compact sedans.

During the past decade, however, such ignorance is seemingly gone and the brand has generated a premium image, which has been good enough to attract a world-renowned fashion house.

Hyundai Motor started selling a special edition of the Genesis this month developed in collaboration with Prada, labeled Genesis Prada, so as to arrest consumers’ attention both at home and abroad.

"This is a brainchild of Hyundai and Prada. Through years of intensive cooperation, our award-winning Genesis was reborn with a host of creative inputs from Prada," a Hyundai Motor spokesman said.

"The Genesis Prada is characterized by a special design, which combines Prada’s sophisticated innovation, attention to detail and uncompromised approach to quality with Hyundai’s advanced technology and expertise in car manufacturing."

Korea’s foremost automaker plans to offer merely 1,200 units of the special edition variant in the domestic market for the top-tier clientele.

"We have phased in private show rooms for the first time in Korea where customers can meet the sales agent one-on-one. Specially-designed trailers will also take charge of delivering the posh units to the doorsteps of buyers," the spokesman said.

"More than 100 units of Genesis Prada have been already snapped up and all of the remaining vehicles are expected to meet their owners sooner rather than later since the premium models are gaining considerable attention."

Later this year, Hyundai looks to export the luxury cars to foreign countries in Middle East and Asia including China to drum up its premium image but the corporation has yet to fix the precise time schedule.

In a press meeting held for the commercial launch of Genesis Prada midway in May, Hyundai Motor President Yang Seung-suk also said that the sedan retains what is needed to make it legendary.

"Genesis Prada has tradition, prestige and high performance, which are comparable to any car from any rival. Through the models, we will reshape our strategies for premium models," Yang said. "We will continue to put forth efforts in order to provide value to our clients beyond their expectations."

Unprecedented features

Hyundai and Prada worked together during the past two years to complete the model whose concept was disclosed at the 2009 Seoul Motor Show. This is the first time a production model is being launched in the market.

The vehicle is based on 2012 Genesis, which was unveiled early this year. Genesis is one of the most premium brands in Hyundai’s lineup ― it won the 2009 North American Car of the Year award.

Genesis Prada is powered by Hyundai’s self-developed Tau V8 engine, which Ward’s AutoWorld magazine included in its best 10 engine list for three consecutive years since 2009.

Genesis Prada is on offer in three colors of black Nero, blue Baltico and brown Moro and adopts a three-layer coating technology with stereoscopic golden pearl.

Dark chrome is applied to the radiator grill, emblem and door handles to represent the unique palladium-coated buckles on Prada bags. An outer antenna with a wedge shape and 19-inch alloy wheels are also ideas of Prada designers.

Inside the vehicle, the dashboard and the upholstery have been modified and artisan-crafted in ``saffiano’’ leather, Prada’s signature top-quality leather, with the aim of obtaining a luxurious finish.

"Genesis Prada will be customized by personal orders, while the limited Genesis Prada badge and GP500 emblem will emphasize the scarcity of the cars," a Hyundai engineer said.

"We have no immediate plan to come up with similar vehicles as Genesis Prada. But it is kind of an industry trend for automakers to join hands with fashion houses. Subsequently, we would attempt similar projects down the road along with other premium brands."

Global top three players

On top of the premium image, Hyundai Motor’s sales are more than robust this year.

Together with its sister company Kia Motor, Hyundai looks to join the ranks of the world’s top three players in the not-too-distant future.

The Hyundai-Kia union sold some 2.1 million vehicles during the first four months of 2011. Accordingly, they are on pace to market approximately 6.3 million cars this year.

The reigning champion is Toyota Motor, which chalked up sales of 8.41 million last year closely followed by General Motors with 8.39 million and Volkswagen with 7.14 million. Hyundai-Kia ranked fourth with 5.7 million.

The best-case scenario for Hyundai-Kia: GM and Volkswagen would remain ahead of them but Toyota would fall behind due to its production disruptions in the aftermath of the March earthquakes and the resultant shortage of power.

"Some expect that Toyota’s annual production might plummet substantially in 2011. In such a case, Hyundai-Kia has a strong shot at taking over the Japanese giant to make it to the top-three list," Woori Investment & Securities analyst Cho Soo-hong said.

"Even so, it remains to be seen whether or not Hyundai-Kia will be able to maintain the position even after Toyota gets back to its regular track. Still, it would be a significant achievement to join the ranks of one of three largest automakers on this planet."

KB Investment Securities researcher Shin Chung-kwan concurs.

"The punch line is how big a slump Toyota will experience in its annual figure. Should it fall below the 6.5 million mark, Hyundai-Kia is likely to be ahead," Shin said. "However, I don’t think that Toyota will sit around and watch others nudge past the defending champion. The company will also try its utmost to remain ahead of the curve. The rivalry would be very fierce."

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