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Hyundai looks right for Genesis

Origin story: The Genesis sedan will be re-badged to G80 when a facelifted version arrives next year under the Genesis sub-brand banner.

Fledgling luxury brand Genesis could be impacted by lack of RHD models

9 Nov 2015

HYUNDAI’S presence in the global luxury car market with the Genesis brand will be tempered in Australia by right-hand-drive availability, according to local company executives.

The South Korean car-maker last week announced plans to launch the luxury sub-brand globally, with a line-up that will grow to six models by the end of the decade, but the Australian range is still to be revealed.

Hyundai offers the Genesis sedan in Australia already, with 163 finding homes in the final two months of last year after it launched in November, while so far this year 430 have been sold, outselling Peugeot’s 508 and the Skoda Superb.

It will change monikers to the Genesis G80 when it receives a facelift next year, when the Genesis brand becomes more of a sibling to the Korean giant, but the rate of model growth in Australia will hinge on right-hand drive engineering.

Hyundai Motor Company Australia (HMCA) director of marketing Oliver Mann said the Genesis global range will include a G90 – the updated version of the large V6 and V8 Equus large car – that would kick off the nameplate to follow in the tyre tracks of mainstream brands creating luxury arms including Toyota's Lexus, the Nissan luxury brand Infiniti, Honda's Acura and the ill-fated Eunos experiment by Mazda.

“Globally it (Hyundai) has taken a strategic decision to grow its business and showcase its expertise in quality, technology and the 'experiential' side,” he said. “The approaching launch of the next-generation Equus sedan represents the opportunity for Hyundai to rebadge that vehicle and create the brand, to be focussed on the human-centred luxury.

“It will start with two models but ultimately will roll out to a product range of six models by 2020.

“We can't tell which of those vehicles we'll be getting here today, but Genesis is intending to be a global luxury brand that will stand apart from Hyundai so they will have its own design team,” he said.

The HMCA team is keen to get the upcoming mid-size sedan to take on the German, British and Japanese opposition in the compact prestige sedan segment, as well as the compact and large SUVs and the large coupe destined to grow the luxury range to six models by 2020.

Australian buyers missed out on the first Genesis sportscar model – a rear drive performance coupe with the 260kW/400Nm 3.8-litre V6 engine and a six-speed manual gearbox – because of an absence of right-hand drive production.

Mr Mann agreed said that an aim of being a global brand required left- and right-hand-drive engineering.

“The first model wasn't built in RHD and there won't be a RHD Equus or G90.

“It's a huge investment - in the long term the definition of a global brand with LHD and RHD will be accurate, but it doesn't mean this year or next year will fulfil that," he said.

One model not destined for an appearance with a Genesis badge is the mainstream brand's SUV Santa Fe flagship.

“That's an emphatic no, the Santa Fe will remain part of the Hyundai brand,” Mr Mann said.

“Genesis will have its own family of product that is specially developed around the RWD platforms, Genesis is very much a luxury brand with a luxury focus.”

The Korean brand will retain a similar set-up to its current arrangement for dealers already retailing the Genesis sedan and it will not go down the Toyota path of stand-alone Lexus dealers.

“Our Genesis (sedan) dealers already have a 'store-in-store' Genesis in its own area and that's the idea we'll develop further in the network, it won't be a stand-alone dealer network,” Mr Mann said.

“Genesis is to be a sister brand to Hyundai. Complete separation would prove no halo for the volume brand. Genesis is to be a centre of excellence that extends the Hyundai brand.

“It's about creating highly competitive luxury product but delivering best practice that can cascade through the brand,” he said.

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