When the Hyundai Equus debuted last year, the luxury sedan's most talked-about new feature was its owner's manual. That's because the Equus eschewed the usual paper books in favor of an electronic owner's manual loaded on to an iPad, provided for free to all Equus buyers. But that's about to change.
According to Hyundai, the 2012 Equus will give up its signature iPad, returning to the traditional paper books found in other cars. That means potential Equus buyers will have to act quickly in order to scoop up the last iPad-equipped 2011 models before the 2012 Equus goes on sale next month. When it does, the automaker says the books will come standard, though buyers with their own iPads can still download an electronic owner's manual through Apple's online app store.
Interestingly, many of Hyundai's Equus television advertisements prominently revolve around the free Apple device. Narrated by actor Jeff Bridges, several of the ads are almost completely devoted to the iPad and lack substantive information about the Equus itself. To date, Hyundai says it's given away around 2,000 of the base-level iPads, which retail for around $500.
But the automaker says dropping the free iPad was the plan from the very beginning. According to several Hyundai officials, the complimentary iPad was only intended to be a one-year promotion to help drum up interest in the Equus. Now that the first year is up - and the promotion successfully increased interest in the luxury sedan - Hyundai says it's planning similar tie-ins with Apple on upcoming product launches, including the sporty Veloster hatchback.
Hyundai sold just 302 units of the Equus last month, ranking it among the least popular luxury sedans on the market. But considering Hyundai's reputation for selling smaller, inexpensive cars, many industry observers have been surprised to see the Equus achieve the success it has in such a short time. The sedan debuted last fall with a base price of just under $60,000.