Expect the Unexpected

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Hyundai is surprising the competitors and auto enthusiasts with its unique designs driven by innovation as the auto brand dons a ‘modern premium’ avatar.

Hyundai is unarguably one of the fastest growing automotive brands in the world. Oman market is not an exception either as we see more and more Hyundai cars running on the Sultanate’s roads. In the recent years, Hyundai as a brand is undergoing a dramatic metamorphosis. For decades, Hyundai had worked on strengthening its positioning as the ‘value’ brand catering to the mass market. And in the process, with sales of over 4.4 million vehicles (in 2012), the Korean giant has joined the ranks of the world’s largest auto manufacturers. In the last couple of years, Hyundai is strategically working to move towards a higher ground, till recently occupied completely by much fancied European and Japanese brands. The company has identified that the growth in the future would not come from just generating higher sales volume. The unrelenting focus is now on improving the quality of the brand by giving it an elevation so that it could successfully compete at the top level.

But can you transform a mass market brand into a prestige brand? “Yes, it is possible and we are working on making it a reality,” responded Simon Jeong, general manager-Middle East Team, Hyundai Motor Company. Then why many other direct competitors of Hyundai have been selling their premium cars under a different branding? Jeong replied, “Our research has shown that this dual brand strategy has not been effective in the market and many of our mass market competitors have failed to replicate the success of the traditional luxury brands with a different branding. We believe that we could achieve our task by making Hyundai brand modern premium.”

Jeong has a point as Samsung, a fellow Korean brand, is universally successful in the low, mid and high segments of the global mobile phone market. The company has identified that this brand elevation could be achieved by improving the quality for the consumers at every touch point say the car itself, the service, the marketing communications and overall ownership experience. Hyundai’s slogan ‘New Thinking, New Possibilities’ embodies the spirit to create new experiences for its customers.

Design has been a major game changer for Hyundai in the last couple of years. If we look at Hyundai designs based on fluidic sculpture, they draw attraction and admiration from most of the auto drivers. In fact, many of the models appear more contemporary and sleek compared to their highly priced premium competitors.

As part of the strategy to uplift the brand, Hyundai is also collaborating with other leading luxury brands to introduce affluent and desirable models. In 2011, Hyundai had introduced a co-branded luxury sedan ‘Genesis Prada’ in a tie-up with Italian luxury fashion house Prada SpA. The first of its kind co-branding provided legitimacy to Hyundai’s ownership of the ‘modern premium’ positioning.

Going a step further, this year at Seoul Motor Show, it showcased a special edition of its high-end luxury sedan Centennial to further elevate the brand. Called Equus (Centennial is also known as Equus in many markets) Hermes edition, the highly desirable sedan had interiors designed by French fashion brand Hermes.

Talking of 2013 Seoul Motor Show, Hyundai also unveiled its latest luxury sports coupe concept car ‘HND-9’. Not too sure whether the hot model would ever enter the commercial production line but it does demonstrate the company’s future design direction. The beauty on the wheels grabbed the maximum eyeballs at the show.

Speaking at the launch, Suk-Geun Oh, head of Hyundai design centre said, “HND-9 will give customers a glimpse of Hyundai’s future luxury sports coupe models. Representing an evolution of Hyundai’s ‘Fluidic Sculpture’ design philosophy, the rear-wheel drive sports coupe concept balances high performance with a sophisticated image.”

According to a press statement issued by Hyundai, HND-9 is the ninth concept model developed by the Hyundai Motor Group’s R&D Center in Namyang, Korea. Based on a modern reinterpretation of an elegant, classic premium sports coupe, sophisticated details in every design element of the car reinforce a premium look. The vehicle, with its dramatic, long hood and wheelbase, is equipped with 3.3-litre turbo GDi engine and 8-speed auto transmission delivering a maximum output of 370ps, while its exterior design exudes a befitting image of the powerful performance. Fluidic yet sleek character lines that stretch from headlamp to trunk, voluminous, powerful car body and a striking, wide hexagonal-shaped radiator grille enhance the vehicle’s high performance image.

Moreover, butterfly doors, sculptural rear combination lamps, and dual tailpipes placed on both sides, give the car a sleek, futuristic look. Twenty-two inch alloy wheels – mixed with carbon materials – also contribute to great styling, while lowering its weight. Like its exterior, the interior styling of the HND-9 is designed to deliver a modern, luxurious driving experience. Three key concepts are embedded into the interior design to realise this goal: spiral sculpture, elegance and high-tech interface.

The seats are made of sporty yet luxurious mesh, and depending on which angle they are seen from, they project different colours, exuding elegance and mystique. The driver-oriented, high-tech interface is modelled after a cockpit, offering both improved functionality and aesthetics, optimized for dynamic driving.

As part of its brand enhancement efforts, Hyundai also presented the works of its collaboration with one of the world’s leading designers Karim Rashid at the show. The collaboration between Karim Rashid and Hyundai is part of Hyundai efforts to target young, hip consumers who favour unique and emotional designs. Karim Rashid is known for his creative and unprecedented vision, from product design to interior design, from furniture design to art.


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