Hyundai, Kia and Genesis are battling a down market with a product offensive that is transforming the brands’ lineups in profound ways. Having cracked the quality code, all three marques are rolling out vehicles as part of a planned product offensive, from crossovers to hatchbacks, electric vehicles and even perhaps a pickup.
The common denominators among the new, redesigned and freshened vehicles are more engaging styling, a sharper focus on performance and a broadening portfolio of electrified vehicles. Among the three brands, there are value-packed cars, crossovers in all sizes, boy-racer hatchbacks, mature performance sedans, hybrids, plug-in hybrids, full-electric vehicles and a fuel cell crossover.
With Hyundai and Genesis directly connected and Kia part of the larger Hyundai Motor Group, the three brands are also adding to their product portfolios with an eye toward not stepping on each other’s toes. Hyundai plans to discontinue the entry-level Accent. Kia intends to keep its Rio entry car. The new Genesis G70 is far more luxurious than the otherwise similar Kia Stinger.
But there are bound to be some complications. Kia came out first with its three-row Telluride crossover this year, followed by the Hyundai Palisade. The Kia has a more rugged image, while the Palisade is more luxurious, the companies contend. In fact, they will battle each other directly for sales as they upset the lucrative three-row crossover segment for their incumbent rivals.
Likewise, as Hyundai and Kia move upmarket with compelling designs and much-improved interiors, Genesis will have to further distinguish itself — particularly with crossovers — to escape the orbit of its bigger siblings. The virtue of sharing platforms and engineering also brings the burden of separating the three brands in the eyes of consumers.