“This is something we’ve been working on for a decade.” Hyundai Motor America president and CEO David Zuchowski wants the world to know that the new Genesis brand “is not an off-shoot of Hyundai.” The brand has its own leadership team, its own research and development resources, and will have its own marketing. “You get very few chances to launch a brand,” Zuchowski says. Here’s how the Genesis team will do it here in the U.S.
Where To Buy
A small subset of Hyundai dealers will have Genesis availability. Yes, you’ll still have to walk through Hyundai doors to get to the Genesis brand, but only about 350 dealers – less than half of the brand’s nationwide network – will sell the high-end products; these are the same dealers previously authorized to sell the Equus. Hyundai found relative success with its “showroom in a showroom” concept for the Genesis and Equus sedans, managing to pull people up from Sonatas and Azeras into the flagship models.
In fact, Zuchowski says the Genesis sedan is currently second in retail sales in its segment, recently surpassing the BMW 5 Series. “We are not a newcomer. We are not the new kid on the block,” he says. Brand awareness is already there.
Customers who buy in will be treated handsomely, with the Genesis Experience, that includes three free years of valet services, scheduled maintenance, and more. This is standard on all G80 and G90 models, and will be part of every new Genesis model from here on out. As for previous Hyundai Genesis buyers, well, they’re out of luck.
G90 And G80
The G90 flagship shows “how deeply committed we are to the Genesis brand,” Zuchowski says. Read our review – the G90 is an exceptionally well-rounded product that builds a great foundation for the brand.
But just as G90 takes center stage, so does G80 – the sedan formerly known as Hyundai Genesis. In the transition to the new brand lineup, the 2017 G80 gets a price hike of $2,650 over the 2016 model year Hyundai version, but comes with more standard equipment. Otherwise, it’s largely carryover, with both naturally aspirated 3.8-liter V6 and 5.0-liter V8 engines. Some version of the new Sport model is expected to arrive for 2018, packing the all-new, biturbocharged 3.3-liter V6 introduced in the G90. Eventually, the G80 will be redesigned and will ride on a new rear-wheel-drive platform.
Genesis vehicles will not share their engines or platforms with any other vehicle in the larger Hyundai Motor world. Whereas the outgoing Equus and Kia K900 were largely related, for example, any platform or powertrain developed for a Genesis vehicle will not be used in any Hyundai- or Kia-branded product.
Speaking of the Kia K900, it’s unclear if that product will continue to see life. The 5.0-liter V8 will be a Genesis-only engine, and it doesn’t really make sense to keep that car alive with just a V6. Besides, it rides on the outgoing Equus platform. Why keep that around solely for a slow-selling, big Kia?
G80 and G90 will lead the charge for the immediate future, but by 2021, the brand’s portfolio will increase to include six models. A smaller G70 sedan – think 3 Series-fighter – will arrive on a new platform, and will eventually spawn a midsize luxury SUV and sport coupe. A larger luxury SUV will ride on the G80 platform.
Right now, the most important thing for Genesis is, as marketing director Kate Fabian says, “Creating a relationship with our customers.” For Genesis, it’s all about mutual respect, and diving into the luxury set with great attention to detail.
“We need to approach [luxury] in a more enlightened, humble, human-centric way,” says brand head Erwin Raphael. And with strong products like G80 and G90 leading the way – not to mention a packed pipeline ahead – it appears Genesis is finally ready for its own spotlight without a Hyundai badge.