Hyundai appears to be considering entering the luxury crossover market to compete with the Lexus RX , Audi Q5 , and Cadillac SRX . That’s according to an interview Edmunds.com had recently with Hyundai CEO Dave Zuchowski.
However, Zuchowski says the main problem with creating a luxury SUV would be having a place to sell it. “We made a conscious decision on our premium products not to establish a secondary distribution channel,” he says. “And that decision, and we absolutely think it is the right decision, has some flow-through impact on products.”
So in other words, Hyundai doesn’t think a premium SUV or crossover would sell well within conventional Hyundai dealerships. The Korean automaker is already traveling down this bumpy road with its classy Genesis and Equus sedans, products that far exceed the Hyundai brand perception held by the general public. Hyundai does have that "dealership within a dealership" concept in use where the premium products are separated from the non-premium vehicles, but apparently the concept isn’t working well enough for it to add an SUV to the Genesis and Equus side of the showroom.
Regardless of the selling method, the SUV itself would likely be based on the seven-passenger Santa Fe . It would likely keep the same underpinnings and powertrain, but have completely unique styling and an interior that matched the luxuriousness of the all-new 2015 Genesis sedan.
Zuchowski and Hyundai appear to be stuck behind their decision to remain a singular brand and not create a secondary luxury label like Toyota’s Lexus or Nissan’s Infiniti . Zuchowski uses the example of Toyota and Lexus in selling mechanically similar products with different levels of refinement. "The RX is basically the Toyota Highlander and they can charge a premium for that vehicle because they are sold in different showrooms," Zuchowski says.
For now, Hyundai’s plans for rolling out a Lexus RX competitor are on hold, with Zuchowski implying that once a sales method has been reached, the automaker could move forward.
Note: Photo is of the Hyundai Intrado Concept
Click past the jump to read about the Hyundai Intrado Concept