Honda’s luxury brand is Acura, Toyota has Lexus, Nissan with Infiniti, and now Hyundai will have Genesis.
Hyundai will introduce its all-new premium Genesis brand without a single stand-alone dealership. It’s a bold and unconventional approach when one considers that Honda launched Acura in 1986 with 50 new dealerships, Toyota launched Lexus in 1989 with 81 new dealerships, and Nissan launched Infiniti the following year with 51 new dealerships.
The GM of Genesis Motors USA says they wanted to launch the brand in a very short period of time. Accomplishing in nine months what took others many years is a challenge, but he is quick to point out that his company didn’t want to delay the launch — building a new dealer network, which includes licensing, dealer agreements, permits, and construction, requires far too much time.
They are beginning with the new G90 flagship full-size sedan. The six- or eight- cylinder luxury car, with available all-wheel drive, is exceptionally quiet on the road and has an impressive list of standard features. A slightly smaller four-door, (a rebadged Hyundai Genesis) coined the G80, will accompany the G90 with four more vehicles to follow.
Now, all Hyundai dealers will not be employed in this Genesis fast-track to put consumers in sumptuous semi-aniline leather upholstered seats. There are more than 800 Hyundai dealerships nationwide, but less than 350 of those will be allowed to operate as a hybrid Hyundai-Genesis dealer. Each will be qualified on the new product (sales and service), and trained on how to deliver a premium experience to the buyers. Think of them as a separate high-end store within a store.
Eventually, Genesis does plan on launching a stand-alone dealer network, much in the same manner of Acura, Lexus, and Infiniti, but the company appears content with its expedited, cautious, and much less expensive, wait-and-see approach. One thing is for sure — Hyundai is in no hurry to build out a new dealer network.
Stand-alone dealerships offered Acura, Lexus, and Infiniti the ability to deliver a premium shopping, buying, and service experience within a traditional brick-and-mortar building — keeping the new upscale clientele away from mainstream Honda, Toyota, and Nissan customers. To mimic similar separation, Genesis is countering with a concierge program that will not only deliver a loaner vehicle to the owner’s home or place of work when service is required (complimentary maintenance is included for 3-Years/36,000 miles), but allow new customers to sign sales and lease paperwork offsite — in theory, connected consumers with a smartphone app may find no reason to ever visit a Genesis retailer.
The next hurdle that Genesis has, is that it is launching during a time when SUVs and Crossovers are dominating the sales charts. New vehicle customers prefer a tall ride height, cavernous storage, and ease of entry and exit. The two new Genesis sedans are arriving at a time when premium luxury sedans have lost their luster.
Genesis will add new vehicles to the lineup in the near future, but the third to arrive still won’t be a crossover. Instead, it will be a BMW 3 Series fighter. It’ll be at least another year before they launch a G70. And, assuming everything goes to plan, the company expects to have six models in the showroom by 2021. Two of those will likely be an SUV and a CUV, so somewhere in that timeframe, they’ll have at least two SUVs.
Launching Genesis without a stand-alone dealership network, with two very similar vehicles, into a marketplace that is snubbing premium luxury sedans is troublesome, but the company isn’t fixated on volume. Instead, it is focused on building a unique premium luxury brand — using the G80 and G90 as its solid platform — and developing customer loyalty through an excellent ownership experience.
Today’s tech-savvy consumers who put time, personal response, and immediate customer service ahead of everything else may embrace Genesis, and teach an aging industry some new ways.