Aexecutive says the exercise is meant to show the Korean brand can build vehicles of utter opulence, as well as the economical yet high-styled offerings that continue to rack up sales throughout the global markets.
Hyundai says Equus selling in home market at its highest volumes ever.
’s unveiling of a special Equus luxury sedan adds a touch of class to the Seoul auto show with its complete interior, and some exterior elements, designed and custom fabricated by Hermes of Paris, for a priceless show-only version of the vehicle.
Cho Won-hang,’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer, says the exercise is meant to further boost the Korean brand, showing that it can produce vehicles of utter opulence, as well as the economical yet high-styled offerings that continue to rack up sales throughout the global markets.
The show car’s interior is luxuriously cloaked in fine leather, similar, Hyundai says, to the material and craftsmanship that go into the super-elite Birkin leather bags Hermes markets at prices that range from $9,000 to as high as $150,000.
Hermes CEO Jean-Louis Dumas was inspired to have the purse line created in the 1980s after sitting next to actress Jane Birkin on a flight from Paris to London, when her straw handbag spilled its contents and she complained she had never found one in leather that suited her.
Hyundai is hoping the Equus, done in leather and with exterior tweaking that includes a special top coating, will have global appeal to those to whom cost is no barrier and social status and prestige is a badge of honor.
The auto maker commissioned Hermes to develop three of the special super luxury editions, similar to the approach it took five years ago when it asked the Italian design house Prada to remake three Hyundai Genesis semi-luxury sedans.
The Prada vehicles were shown in a specially constructed glass tower that Prada used to display its goods in downtown Seoul, which attracted tens of thousands and was the rage of the city.
While some pundits said the Prada venture was a costly flop, Hyundai sources say they missed the point. The goal was not to boost sales of the Genesis, per se, but to elevate the brand, just as it is looking to do with the Hermes Equus, and in this they feel they have been successful.
Some analysts insist a mass producer such as Hyundai cannot break into the upper tier of the automotive world that appeals to the super rich. But sources say the objective is to create a halo vehicle that reflects Hyundai’s ongoing effort to offer high-quality vehicles at attractive prices, thus ridding the brand of its former economy-car image.
Just days before the Hermes Equus was to be unveiled at the Seoul show, the upgraded ’14 version of the luxury sedan made its debut at the New York auto show.
Hyundai says the Equus is selling in the domestic markets at its highest volumes ever.
It didn’t hurt that South Korea’s new President Park Geun Hye elected to ride to her February inauguration in an armored special edition Equus, instead of a foreign-made luxury sedan as had been the style of her predecessors.