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Hyundai Flagship Has Competitors Curious

Competitors should stay tuned, as Hyundai says it will detail its future plans for alternative-fuel vehicles in the U.S. by year’s end.

CHICAGO – In its first full month of sales, the new flagship in the Hyundai lineup, the rear drive Genesis sedan, has attracted 800 buyers.

But it’s who have purchased one, not how many, that has Hyundai Motor America Inc. officials a little giddy.

“Among the first buyers were General Motors (Corp.) and Toyota (Motor Corp.),” says Michael Deitz, manager-product development for Hyundai, who oversees Genesis.

Both paid sticker, but there are a few other reasons Deitz is excited.

“I’m flattered the competition bought us so early, but we only had the V-6 version available initially, so they are going to have to come back and buy another car,” he says during a preview of the new Genesis for the Midwest Automotive Media Assn. here.

The top-of-the-line Genesis is powered by a 4.6L V-8. Base is a 3.8L V-6, which Hyundai officials expect to account for 80% of the volume in the U.S.

Deitz says Hyundai quickly knew who the two Genesis buyers were, because one car was registered to GM and the other to Toyota.

It also helped, of course, that the guy who bought the Genesis for GM identified himself as coming from the auto maker’s “Competitive Intelligence Dept.”

Meanwhile, competitors should stay tuned. Deitz says Hyundai will detail its future plans for alternative-fuel vehicles in the U.S. by year’s end. The auto maker is testing liquefied-petroleum-gas cars in South Korea, fuel-cell cars in Michigan and California and is looking into clean-diesel engines for possible use in SUVs.

Hyundai also is eying both cylinder deactivation for the new 4.6L V-8 powering the Genesis sedan, as well as supercharging, he says.

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