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Breaking: Hyundai Equus Flagship to Go On Sale in U.S. Next Year

Korean automaker's flagship to take on BMW 7 Series, Lexus LS

 |  Aug 12 2009, 10:59 AM

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Hyundai continues to shake up perceptions of what a Korean automaker can be, announcing today that it will offer its flagship Equus sedan in the U.S. starting next year.

The Equus is based on the same architecture as the Genesis, but is noticeably larger. Hyundai intends that it will compete with the world’s premiere luxury saloons including the BMW 7 Series, Mercedes S-Class and Lexus LS.

“We showed the car at the New York Auto Show earlier this year, and the response was fantastic,” says John Krafcik, Hyundai Motor America president and CEO. “Since then, we’ve had a fleet traveling around the country, capturing input from our dealers and consumers. Here, too, the response was extraordinarily positive, and similar to the market reaction to the award-winning Genesis, so we’ve decided to bring it to the U.S.”

And as though showcasing the car at the New York Auto Show wasn’t enough of a shock to the traditionalists, Hyundai will again display the vehicle this weekend at the ultra-prestigious Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

Hyundai has yet to release specifications on the new model, but it’s certain to be offered with the company’s 375hp 4.6-liter V8. Recently we reported that the Korean automaker has also developed a 5.0-liter V8 engine as well, and there is a strong possibility that powerplant could be offered in North America.

Hyundai is also undecided on whether or not its flagship will keep it’s Korean-market name, indicating that the Equus badge may be dropped in favor of a more U.S.-friendly name.

GALLERY: 2011 Hyundai Equus

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Official release after the jump:

HYUNDAI TO SELL Its flagship SEDAN IN U.S.

Crafted to rival Mercedes, BMW, Lexus and the world’s most prestigious luxury automobiles, marking another step in Hyundai’s growth as a leading brand

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif., August 12, 2009 – Hyundai is shaking things up at the annual Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance by announcing its intention to launch its most premium luxury sedan in the U.S. next year.

Hyundai’s flagship, badged as the Equus in the Korean market, will be on display and on the roads surrounding the annual gathering of collectible classic luxury automobiles throughout the week, giving attendees a glimpse of the company’s most prestigious model.

“We showed the car at the New York Auto Show earlier this year, and the response was fantastic,” says John Krafcik, Hyundai Motor America president and CEO. “Since then, we’ve had a fleet travelling around the country, capturing input from our dealers and consumers. Here, too, the response was extraordinarily positive, and similar to the market reaction to the award-winning Genesis, so we’ve decided to bring it to the U.S.”

Hyundai’s flagship sedan, developed under the codename “VI,” launched this year in Korea. The Equus nameplate used there has adorned the company’s flagship model for 10 years, where it enjoys a reputation for quality and luxury in a place where Japanese and European luxury marques such as Lexus, BMW and Mercedes are coveted.

Here in the U.S., the runaway success of the 2009 Hyundai Genesis, which has garnered worldwide critical acclaim and remarkable sales success, gave Hyundai reason to consider expanding its brand further into the upper echelon of automotive luxury. But it was dealer and consumer response to a summer-long tour that saw Equus sedans visiting Hyundai showrooms across the country that solidified the decision.

DETAILS OF U.S. PLANS TO COME

Hyundai’s new flagship sedan is built on Hyundai’s all-new, innovative, premium rear-wheel-drive architecture, shared with the North American Car of the Year Genesis sedan and the performance-focused Genesis Coupe.

The new sedan will be sold in the U.S. beginning in late 2010. Pricing, packaging, specifications, and the final name of the car for the U.S. market will be announced closer to launch.