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Hyundai's High-End Showrooms for Equus and Genesis Grab Attention

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author photo by Autotrader March 2011

A year ago, Hyundai told its dealers that an upscale, luxurious model was coming – and showrooms needed to follow suit. Twelve months later, the Equus has arrived – and so have many of the planned upgrades to dealer showrooms.

According to Hyundai, around 200 of the 400 U.S. dealers who signed on to receive the upscale Equus have carried out the requisite modifications to their showroom necessary to display the luxury sedan. Dubbed the "showroom within a showroom," the upgrades involve separating the Equus and near-luxury Genesis from the rest of the showroom through half-walls and high-end flooring materials, creating a different experience from the rest of the dealership.

Hyundai designed the showroom-within-a-showroom concept instead of creating an entirely new brand for the Equus in part so that dealers didn't have to invest heavily in building new facilities to house a new luxury brand. According to the automaker, building stand-alone facilities for a new brand – much like Lexus did in the early 1990s – would have cost millions of dollars per store, versus an investment of just thousands for the showroom-within-a-showroom concept.

"That's a good way to go," American Hyundai's chief executive John Krafcik told Ward's Auto. "That way, dealers don't have to spend $5 million, $10 million on a new luxury brand. Sectioning off the brand, that's the Holy Grail."

However, not all dealers are excited about the Equus. With steep starting prices and projections of less than 2,000 sales annually, it's likely the Equus won't be hugely profitable – and just half of Hyundai's 800 U.S. dealers have signed on to receive the new model. But it's not just the Equus that requires the showroom-within-a-showroom concept, with Hyundai noting that dealers missing the upscale showrooms may also miss out on the higher-volume Genesis models.

"The dealers may not care about the Equus, but they do care about the Genesis," said Scott Fink, chairman of Hyundai's dealer council. "So the fact that they may not get Genesis and those future products will get their attention."

The Equus went on sale in December. With a base price of around $60,000, the rear-drive sedan is the most expensive Hyundai yet, eclipsing the already-upmarket Genesis by more than $20,000.

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Hyundai's High-End Showrooms for Equus and Genesis Grab Attention - Autotrader