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Hyundai chief reveals Genesis launch plan

Big ticket: Hyundai plans to launch its flagship Genesis luxury brand in the final quarter, with the G70 mid-size sedan (left) joining a revised and rebadged version of the previous ‘Genesis’ large sedan, now known as G80.

HMCA set to launch G70, G80 in standalone, factory-owned Sydney showroom

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Genesis logo19 Jun 2018

HYUNDAI Motor Co Australia (HMCA) is planning to launch its flagship Genesis luxury brand around October this year with a single factory-owned flagship dealership in Sydney that will exclusively sell the G70 mid-size sedan and G80 large sedan.
 
Revealing the plans in an interview with GoAuto this week, HMCA chief executive JW Lee said the company was looking for a suitable site for the high-end retail outlet – understood to be the first standalone Genesis dealer of its kind in the world – and was planning to eventually expand into Melbourne and other key metropolitan markets such as Brisbane.
 
Mr Lee said the company did not expect existing Hyundai dealers or other independent retail groups to invest heavily in the untested luxury brand in Australia that will have only two niche models at launch, one of which is an updated and rebadged version of the previous ‘Genesis’ sedan (G80) that was discontinued last year. 
 
This will change when two SUVs reach the market in the next few years – one to be based on the GV80 concept shown in New York last year – along with a GT coupe that was previewed by the Essentia concept at this year’s NY show.
 
These models will fill out the range and appeal to a broader range of buyers, signalling the time when HMCA will look to independent retailers for broader, national representation. 
 
Mr Lee said the G90 limousine will not be sold here as it is not available in right-hand drive.
 
“There were several issues,” he said. 
 
“According to our Genesis global strategy, we have to establish a separate Genesis brand here (in Australia) … That means we have to develop a separate dealer network and that means the dealer has to invest in the infrastructure. 
 
“But currently we have only two models only – the G80 and the G70. Globally, G90 was available but it is only a left-hand-drive car.”
 
Mr Lee said the company had considered launching the Genesis brand using existing Hyundai dealerships but “with only two models available, to establish infrastructures, it would cost quite a lot, so I don’t think many dealers would be interested in investing”.
 
As a result, a “company-owned showroom” was deemed the best course of action.
 
“It’s not justifiable. If dealers invested multi-million dollars for only two models, it cannot be justified. It’s a huge investment, and I don’t want to give a big burden to dealers,” Mr Lee said.
 
“This is our strategy, until we are getting a more (comprehensive) model line-up – an SUV and other model line-up.
 
“Once we are getting some more models including the SUV, then maybe we can consider the support of our dealers. But it depends, because we don’t know how many Genesis cars we can sell. 
 
“This is a totally new territory for us, so we need to develop our customers’ perception first, then once the customers are getting more into our Genesis brand, maybe we can open some more dealers through the network.
 
“But currently nothing is clear.”
 
Mr Lee said it was important for him personally to be honest with the Hyundai dealer network and not to create unrealistic expectations about sales volume for Genesis, which is sure to be modest without brand recognition and as even well-established luxury sedans find the going tough in the current marketplace. 
 
“I don’t want to give some false vision for dealers,” he said. “Honestly, dealers cannot earn the money (to be profitable) with only two models, in my view.”
 
Asked to specify the cities where the company would concentrate its efforts, Mr Lee said: “Sydney is the first, and then Melbourne, and Brisbane.
 
“We don’t have that (Sydney site) yet. We are looking for a candidate plot.”
 
Mr Lee said part of the difficulty for HMCA is that the global strategy calls for standalone Genesis dealerships – not just a space in an existing Hyundai showroom.
 
“These are exclusive Genesis showrooms,” he said. “Our global strategy does not allow the Genesis brand to associate with the Hyundai brand.”
 
The HMCA chief also said the company would look at other means of selling Genesis, such as through an online channel.
 
“Yes, that is one part that we are considering,” he said. “We are thinking of some new approaches in this market for a luxury brand.”
 
These include extremely high levels of customer service, both at the showroom level with concierges – “product presenters” rather than salespeople, as Mr Lee describes them – and through various aftersales measures. 
 
He also said HMCA had established a degree of brand loyalty and received a lot of positive feedback from the 1000 or so buyers of the previous ‘Genesis’ (G80) that gave the company confidence going forward with the new standalone Genesis brand venture. 
 
“We are not aiming at a high volume from the beginning,” Mr Lee said. “But, step by step, we want to establish our Genesis brand properly.”

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