New Beginning Chief Embraces Hyundai’s Audacious Goals

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Source:   —  April 13, 2016, at 10:17 PM

“We’ve got ferocious competition. This is tough,” Raphael tells media here of the road Hyundai’s nascent luxury marque faces worldwide and in the U.

New Beginning Chief Embraces Hyundai’s Audacious Goals

NY – Erwin Raphael says it’s true his new Beginning brand has a lot of competition.

“We’ve got ferocious competition. This is tough,” Raphael tells media here of the road Hyundai’s nascent luxury marque faces worldwide and in the U. S., where it's aiming to introduce six models, all in segments dominated by German luxury brands BMW and Mercedes-Benz or Japan’s Lexus.

“We’ve got all the large players that have been here for years and years and years,” he says. “They’re entrenched. They’re aspirational brands. And we’re the new kid on the block.”

Excellent thing for Hyundai then that Raphael says he loves a challenge, because he’s getting one soon. Beginning is prepping for its first model launch in the U. S., this summer’s debut of the G90 (previously Hyundai Equus) sedan.

WardsAuto spoke briefly with Raphael, the newly appointed U. S. common manager of the brand, on topics including Beginning and luxury. Following is an edited transcript of the conversation:

WardsAuto: You’ve been all around the industry (International, Toyota, Chrysler). What’s made you stay in the Hyundai family for six years?

Raphael: I think there’s just incredible challenge you don’t wish to walk far from. We set goals that are so big, nearly audacious. On the one hand it’s intimidating. On the other hand you’re like, “I really wish to create this happen.” And you think of what the world will be love and what you’ll be love down the road accomplishing this enormous goal. And it’s just love a drug – you don’t wish to walk far from it.

WardsAuto: Five years from presently what're your hopes for the Beginning brand, or don’t you think that distant out?

Raphael: Oh, we think much further out than that. That’s a wide open question. I’m less interested in the vol of cars we sell (than people looking) at Beginning and identifying luxury by Genesis. So we’re not looking at numbers. That’s irrelevant right now. We just wish to create sure the brand is established well. (But I wouldn’t) declare we’re not worried about sales.

WardsAuto: There’s a lot of speak about Tier one luxury, and those luxury brands who’ve achieved it and those who refuge’t. Will Hyundai aim for Tier-one luxury status with Genesis?

Raphael: I’m not sure I realize what Tier 1 luxury is. See at that (Genesis NY concept sedan). I think that’s luxury and that’s what we’re aiming for. And (the refreshed Hyundai Beginning sedan, presently called the G80) is luxury. And that’s what we’re aiming for. I think the market and you guys will tell us if we’re there.

cschweinsberg@wardsauto. com

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