Hyundai’s Genesis nameplate is betting on plug-in hybrids as a necessity in luxury car brand competition.
This was revealed by Dave Zuchowski, CEO of Hyundai Motor America, though he declined to identify which Genesis vehicles would get plug-in hybrid variants.
“We believe alternative-propulsion engines are going to be really important — even more important in the luxury market than they are in the mainstream market,” he said in an interview with Automotive News.
Competitive luxury brands are rolling out plug-in hybrid variants of existing models, including BMW, Mercedes, and Porsche. Cadillac, Volvo, Audi, and Infiniti have similar plans in the works.
It’s going to be a transitional technology as parent company Hyundai adds more hydrogen fuel cell vehicles to products beyond the Tucson Fuel Cell. Both the Hyundai and Genesis brands are working on plug-in hybrids that will be an intermediate step before fuel cell vehicles take hold in the market in the coming decades, Zuchowski said.
Genesis did announce a hybrid concept sports sedan in March. Called the New York Concept for the first city where it was shown, it has a 2.0-liter direct-injection four-cylinder engine with 245 horsepower; but no information was given on the hybrid powertrain at that time.
As for the first vehicles being launched by the new Genesis brand, the G90 full-size sedan (formerly known as Equus) will go on sale this year. The G80 is a revised midsize sedan that had previously been called the Hyundai Genesis and will also be available this year. The G70 compact sedan will come later, followed by two crossover models by the end of the decade.
No mention was given by Zuchowski to Tesla Motors for competition in the all-electric luxury space. For Hyundai, fuel cell vehicles are the cleanest vehicle offerings to bring to market.
In the meantime, plug-in hybrids make the most sense for Genesis. Some car shoppers are very interested in the increased fuel efficiency, green benefits, and because the vehicles’ internal combustion engines eliminate range anxiety. Plug-in hybrids have seen a comeback this year, jumping 40 percent in the first quarter versus that same period in 2015, according to Edmunds.com.
“You get a lot of the benefits of electric vehicles but with a safety net,” Zuchowski said. “We think that’s a wonderful midterm strategy.”