Hyundai to debut new Genesis sedan in Europe next year
SEOUL Oct 25 (Reuters) - Hyundai Motor Co said on Friday that it plans to launch its new Genesis sedan in Europe next year, challenging German premium brands such as BMW and Mercedes on their home turf.
The South Korean automaker said the Genesis would be its first large sedan sold in Europe, where it has outperformed the market thanks to its popular small-car models like the i30 but is trying to shed its image as a value-for-money brand.
Hyundai unveiled the rendering of the new Genesis on Thursday in its first major makeover of the premium sedan in nearly six years. The world's fifth-biggest automaker along with Kia Motors Corp plans to introduce the car in South Korea next month, followed by rollouts in the United States and other countries next year.
Hyundai currently has no premium vehicle line-up in Europe, where even Japanese premium brands such as Lexus and Acura are struggling to compete with established European rivals.
"We have to overcome the challenge of competing with established European brands," Hyundai said in statement. "We expect the Genesis to play a crucial role in improving our brand recognition."
Hyundai counts the United States and South Korea as important markets for the Genesis sedan, which sells in smaller numbers than the Sonata and Elantra cars but garners higher margins, analysts say.
In Europe, Hyundai Motor and its affiliate Kia Motors nearly doubled their combined market share to 6.1 percent last year from 2008 by offering stylish, affordable cars matched with generous warranties. Their sales have slipped 0.7 percent so far this year, but are still outperforming the market's 4 percent fall.
A Hyundai-affiliated think tank expects the European car market will grow 2.5 percent next year, snapping six consecutive years of falls, and have "a meaningful recovery" in 2015. (Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin; Editing by Chris Gallagher)
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