LOS ANGELES -- Hyundai plans to create retail marketing procedures for its Genesis and Equus nameplates as it prepares to launch a second generation of the upscale cars.
In recent months, Hyundai has hired field managers to oversee sales, marketing and retail strategies for the Genesis sedan, Genesis Coupe and $60,000-plus Equus sedan.
Each of Hyundai's five regions will have a premium product operations manager reporting to a senior group manager based at Hyundai Motor America headquarters in Southern California.
The next generation of Hyundai luxury cars arrives starting in early 2014 with the redesigned Genesis sedan. The Genesis debuted in 2008, the Genesis Coupe in 2009 and the Equus in 2011.
Sales of the three vehicles totaled 37,945 last year, up about 5 percent from 2011.
The premium group's first task is to identify premium best practices used by the approximately 320 dealerships out of Hyundai's 800 that are authorized to sell the Equus. Hyundai Motor America CEO John Krafcik said the group will help dealers adopt those practices and develop new premium sales, marketing and customer service ideas.
Krafcik said the new structure is a significant change for Hyundai. Unlike many other automakers, Hyundai has not assigned employees from marketing, sales, public relations or other departments to work on specific vehicle lines, other than a handful of product planners, he said.
"The realization was that these are different products and different demographics," Krafcik said. "The thought was that we could do even better in focusing on premium and taking things to the next level with some focused people in the field."
He said the new premium product group should not be interpreted as a step toward launching a new luxury brand. "We have the same diabolical plan that we've always had," Krafcik said. "We don't want isolated islands of retail excellence, like Lexus. We want all of our premium knowledge to filter into all of our products."