Hyundai may be about to give the large SUV segment another go, according to the latest reports. The automaker has been burned in the past with vehicles like the Veracruz as well as the Borrego from sister brand Kia, but given the strong demand for high-riding models with third-row seats, both here in the U.S. and elsewhere, the segment is simply too vital to ignore.
Speaking with Reuters, several Hyundai sources have revealed that a limited SUV lineup is affecting the brand’s sales—Hyundai's May sales in the U.S. fell 10 percent from a year earlier—and that a new SUV based on the rear-wheel-drive platform of the latest Genesis sedan is being considered. The flexible platform, which debuted a new HTRAC all-wheel-drive system, is also set to appear in next-generation versions of the Equus flagship sedan and sporty Genesis Coupe.
The green light is yet to be given for the SUV and Hyundai remains cautious, not only because of its past performance with large SUVs but also because of concerns of the strength of its brand as well as the possibility that fuel prices may rise again, the sources explained. Adopting the Genesis platform may help address the brand strength issue, though. Sales of the premium sedan are up more than 30 percent for the first five months of the year, which compares with just a 2 percent gain for the whole Hyundai range.
In a statement to Reuters, Hyundai confirmed that a large, premium SUV was being looked at.
"We are considering developing premium, large SUVs based on customers' needs,” Hyundai’s statement read. “We plan to respond to the fast-changing market centered around SUVs by beefing up our SUV lineup.”
Hyundai has previously confirmed that its Veracruz nameplate won’t be renewed, so we’re expecting a new name for the vehicle if it’s produced. Potential rivals would include the Acura MDX, Buick Enclave and Infiniti JX.
Another area where Hyundai is missing out on sales is pickup trucks. That may change soon, however, as there are rumors a production version of the automaker’s well-received Santa Cruz pickup concept is coming.