As a luxury brand in its infancy, Genesis Motors has lofty aspirations. But achieving them presents a challenge that’s entirely new to its parent company Hyundai: building a reputation and cachet that can stand on its own and generate desirability in the face of European rivals.
It should come as no surprise that the marque has a multi-pronged, calculated plan that’s centred around a handful of fundamental principles – key among them being patience.
“Genesis is only four years old, (but) I say four years young,” William Lee, global head of Genesis Motor, told autoTRADER.ca in an exclusive interview in which he was joined by North American head Mark Del Rosso and Canadian brand director Richard Trevisan.
“After Korea, North America is critically important,” Lee continued. “We are working very hard to elevate brand awareness and brand image of Genesis here in North America. Then, I think it will be easier for us to roll out to other countries.”
As the company’s plans unfold, some aspects of particular focus are emerging as Genesis evolves to take on its Goliaths.
A Tight but Fulsome Product Lineup
With the large G90, mid-size G80, and small G70, the Genesis sedan lineup has been complete for some time. But to truly go toe-to-toe with established luxury brands – and, moreover, to compete at all in today’s market – Genesis needs to start producing some compelling crossovers.
This is no secret to those in charge, and so Genesis intends to add two SUVs to its lineup. The first, the production version of the GV80, will launch in short order – the first official images having just been released.
“One of the key things I believe in is positive word of mouth,” Del Rosso said. “I find when I talk to customers on our products, they’re our best advocates.
“Once we have the ability to put an SUV into the marketplace, we’re going to have (customer) advocacy really start to gain a positive momentum.”
No details have been formally announced about the second SUV – when we can expect it, which platform it will ride on, or even whether it will be smaller or larger than the GV80 – but, we’re told, it is coming. And once those two SUVs have joined the lineup, Genesis will be done launching new cars until it’s time to start unveiling EVs.
“I think the number-one point (in building a luxury brand) is just being patient, so don’t rush,” said Richard Trevisan, brand director for Genesis Canada. “The way we are launching products, we are doing it in the correct way.”
Differentiating on Design
Another philosophy Genesis representatives say is setting their products apart is uniqueness in design.
“I believe ‘premium’ has become somewhat of a commodity,” Del Rosso said. “Everyone’s doing the same thing, and it’s blurred what premium really looks like. I think that’s where we have the opportunity.
“The biggest commitment that you’re seeing now is, through the 2020 G90 facelift, our design ethos.”
Highlights of the G90 facelift include upgraded materials along with new quad-lamp headlights and a larger crest-shaped grille that mimic the shape of the Genesis logo. These are elements that will be integrated into the rest of the lineup as new launches and updates unfold.
“The ability to differentiate on design gives us the attractiveness to have a lot more people ignite that exploration of discovering the Genesis brand,” Del Rosso said.
Service That Gives Customers Back Their Time
When Genesis launched in Canada three years ago, it did so on a business model that sees the entire transaction conducted online, from arranging a test drive to completing the sale and even arranging for service, all without customers leaving their homes or offices. It was a concept that was not only unique to our market at the time but was also innovative within the Genesis brand.
Genesis Motors Canada is still making changes to its operations, however. For example, they’ve found that people often still want to see their cars in person before they commit to test drives, so 30 Experience Centres are slated to be open across the country by the end of 2021, locations that will not maintain inventory but will act as product demonstration hubs.
Other markets within Genesis are watching the evolution of the Canadian model closely because its structure, along with the no-haggle pricing that accompanies it, gives customers back something they often can’t buy: their own time.
“It’s really a question of respecting the customer’s time,” Trevisan said. “When you buy a car, you want to be respected. So, (we offer) time, but also in the transaction, we want to make it very transparent.”
And More Performance-oriented Halo Cars? Maybe, Eventually
Genesis has shown some exciting concepts since its debut, most notably the Essentia two-seater coupe. However, its decision-makers appear to be in no rush to push cars like the Essentia into the marketplace until the brand’s present goals are hit. That doesn’t mean they won’t arrive somewhere down the road, though.
“I have to admire how thoughtful our company was in really first focusing on the core and making sure the foundation is absolutely benchmark,” Del Rosso said. “If you’re going to build a business that is going to endure the test of time, strengthen, and then continue to reinvent itself, you have to have the foundation absolutely, fundamentally solid.
“We have the ability to explore several different extensions, but let us get the core right. Let us get the SUV into the marketplace, let us bring EVs. I promise you that there will continue to be encores after that, based on what the customer is demanding.
“I would just say you haven’t seen anything yet from Genesis.”