There are only countable brands of cars that drive millionaires and rich men on their royal paths of luxury – and most of these originate from Europe which is the birthplace of the automobile industry. The Mercedes Benz or Merc, BMW or Beamer, Audi, Jaguar etc along with America’s leading Ford (Lincoln) and General Motors (Cadillac) as well as Japan’s motor king Toyota (Lexus) have not been able to conquer the European market. It is to this region that Hyundai that manufactured their first car towards the end of the 1960s and famous for their ‘small cars’ made their entry.
Ford, General Motors or Toyota may not even dream of beating the sales of Benz or Beamer. However Hyundai contemplates that they can do this with their latest luxury car Equus. They are now gearing up to ‘overtake’ the models of Benz, Audi and BMW. Leading luxury car brands are now closely scrutinizing the progress of Equus.
The automobile industry now terms Equus as the ‘wagering horse’. This means that the presence of certain Korean cars may be seen in the luxury car market!. The full-size sedan model Equus was built as a joint effort between the South Korean company Hyundai and Mitsubishi. This model, which was manufactured in the likes of Mitsubishi’s Proudia car, was displayed at a New York auto show in 2001 to get reviews from the American automobile industry. Hyundai changed the name of the model to Hyundai LZ 450 to suit the American market.
The first generation Equus was launched in 1999. It was a front wheel drive car measuring 5.1 metres long and 1.9 metres wide. A long-wheelbase Equus limousine was manufactured by Hyundai for the Korean market. It resembled the limousine that Mitsubishi launched in Japan. However just a limited number of the first generation Equus were manufactured by Hyundai in the first stage. They were sold only in South Korea, China, and the Middle East. Later, badged as the Centennial, the cars were made available for some western European markets. At first the Equus was manufactured with two engine types – a 3.5 Sigma V6 and 4.5 8A80 V8. Soon after, the 3.0 Sigma V6 engine type was added. In the first stage, a sedan and limousine were unveiled. In Japan, Equus’s limousine and sedan versions sold about 2,000 units.
Subsequent to the first generation model, Hyundai presented their ‘New Equus’, with many changes, especially in the hood and interior design. A screen for the rear seat, Xenon headlamps, front parking sensors, etc. were newly added to the car. From 2005 onwards, 3.0 and 3.5 Sigma V6 engine types were changed to 3.3 and 3.8 Lambda V6 engine types. The manufacturing of the first generation model was stopped in 2008. A new bigger Equus model was launched by the company in March 2009.
The new Equus that can be termed as its second generation model is now Hyundai’s luxury car. The car that reached the market with a different engine was termed VI. The model’s platform was entirely developed by Hyundai. Although the new Equus has nothing in common with the first generation model, the VI was inspired to take the Equus’s name due to the prestige it enjoys in Korea. Hyundai stepped into the business of premium cars just five years ago by presenting Equus at the auto show in New York in 2007. However the company was able to establish itself in this segment only in 2009 with the launch of Equus’s second generation Equus. This is its history. Though Hyundai has not been able to beat the sales of Benz or Beamer, considering their relatively lower price and the acceptance Hyundai has gained in developed countries, the time when the company will make their mark in the luxury automobile segment is not far.