Hyundai Motor Company wants its flagship Genesis brand to ooze luxury, and it just added another top industry talent to its dream team to make sure that happens.
The South Korean automaker now has the expertise of former Bentley exterior designerÂ Sangyup Lee, who just jumped ship from the British luxury automaker,Â ReutersÂ reports.
Lee will serve as vice-president in charge of Hyundai and Genesis design, joining Bentley alumnusÂ Luc Donckerwolke, Hyundai Motor’s new Prestige Design Division head.
The news is the biggest sign yet that Hyundai â€” a brand once derided as a subpar also-ran â€” is dead serious about producing competitive luxury automobiles.
With top Bentley designers on board, Genesis now has enough styling talent to make other premium brands nervous. TheÂ elegant New York concept carÂ unveiled at the New York International Auto Show in March served as a taste of the design language buyers can expect from the upstart brand.
“Lee will help…enhance the design competitiveness of both the Hyundai and Genesis brands with his abundant experience in designing high-end luxury vehicles,” Hyundai said in its statement.Â “His challenging and innovative design languages fit well with the DNA of Hyundai Motor.”
Lee told Reuters that Hyundai began courting him two years ago. He said that future Genesis vehicles will be designed byÂ Donckerwolke and himself from “a clean sheet of paper.”
The luxury field isÂ a big growth market for the company, which faces stiff competition at the lower end of the market. Hyundai and its affiliate Kia Motors missed their global sales target in 2015, placing fifth in the industry, though the brand recorded its best first quarter sales numbers in North America earlier this year.
The first Genesis vehicles on the market will be the 2017 G90 full-size sedan and G80 midsize sedan. A compact G70 sedan, two crossovers and an as-yet-unknown sixth model will appearÂ within a few years.
[Image: Hyundai Motor Company]