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Genesis not under pressure to succeed Down Under

Being Genesis’ only RHD market does not place extra pressure on Australian operation

25 Jun 2019

GENESIS Motors global head Manfred Fitzgerald says the South Korean prestige brand, which launches Down Under this week, has no extra pressure to succeed locally, despite Australia being its only right-hand-drive (RHD) market.


All future Genesis models, including its upcoming range of SUVs, will be built in both left- and right-hand drive, and will be made exclusively for Australia until markets such as the UK are broached.


Genesis Motors has also made a significant investment into the Australian operation by establishing its own network of high-end, lifestyle-focused showrooms that sell direct from the factory, instead of through existing Hyundai dealerships.


Speaking to GoAuto at the brand’s national media launch, Mr Fitzgerald said there would not be pressure for immediate sales success in Australia.


“No, I think the pressure is on us,” he said. “The pressure is on us to make this brand successful, but this is not something we want to force, it is something that will come naturally.


“Therefore, anybody who is competing there has the same pressure, but we’re not in the game of chasing volume right now, because that would lead to a different strategy and would not be a very sustainable strategy.


“So, what we intend to do is building a good foundation for the brand so that we can have sustainable success in this country.”


The brand has said it will not have a focus on sales at launch and instead will judge itself on customer satisfaction and the interactions potential buyers have with Genesis staff.


When asked how the brand will measure its success in Australia without looking at sales, Mr Fitzgerald said making Genesis a household name is the most important step, as well as producing well-regarded, high-quality vehicles.


“I think that comes with being recognised as a true competitor out there,” he said.


“I think that’s also going to be on your judgement from the media and seeing what we’re all about and holding our feet to the fire to see if we can deliver on our promises.


“Let it be on the product side, let it be on the services side – that’s going to be our yardstick to measure.”


Mr Fitzgerald added that following the Australian launch phase, the number-one objective for the brand was to increase its presence locally through marketing campaigns and by building brand awareness.


“Subsequently (our goal is) to engage in all the activities we can to bring out the word that people get to know us,” he said.


“I think the most dominant KPI for us in coming years will be creating awareness for this brand.


“If we can achieve that, we’re not worried about the product side, we’re not worried about our services side, we just have to get the word out and get to be known in the right context. I think that has to be our objective.”


As a relatively small market by global standards, it could be assumed that Australia is being used as a case study for expansion into other RHD markets to test the viability of right-hook cars for Genesis.


However, Mr Fitzgerald rebuffed the suggestion that the local market is a ‘toe in the water’ exercise, saying the reason for coming here was that the brand identified Australia as a market where its products could be successful.


“Each and every market – why do we go there? Because we believe that our products and our brand might resonate with the people there,” he said.


“But there is not such as thing where one market is the same as another. Each market is peculiar. If you take Europe, you have so many different countries in Europe, and each and every market there is different, albeit that they are very close to each other.


“The UK is different to Germany, Germany is different to Switzerland, Switzerland is different to the UK again.


“You have to understand the market, understand what the people like and dislike, and they’ll tell you that. You have to fine-tune your offering exactly to your audience.”


Europe and China have been slated as the next regions that Genesis will expand to, with multiple open points still available across the globe for the marque.


The Genesis brand forms part of the Hyundai Motor Group alongside Hyundai and Kia, with certain powertrains and electronics shared across the brands.


As a premium brand, Genesis will try to distance itself from its HMG origins, despite previously offering the G80 large sedan as the Hyundai Genesis.


Mr Fitzgerald said that the Australian operation could use the learnings of Genesis’ US arm to try to create a reputation that is separate from Hyundai.


“We had a more challenging situation in the US as it was also already there as Genesis,” he said.


“But then to bring the message across that it is not a model any more but a brand was a challenge, but we overcame that pretty quickly. And we hope to see that in the same way here.”


Genesis launches locally with two models – the G70 mid-size sedan and G80 large sedan – with the GV80 large SUV to follow next year, and a product portfolio of six models by 2021.

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