Hyundai’s newly announced Genesis luxury brand — and its fleet of six standalone rear- and all-wheel-drive offerings — will remain inexorably tied to its parent company in Australia from launch in 2016.
Unlike Lexus and Infiniti, which are marketed as separate entities to their Toyota and Nissan parent, Hyundai Australia will sell its growing range of luxury cars from within its existing dealer network, and proudly promote the family connection.
As we know, Genesis becomes its own separate entity sans Hyundai badges from the end of this year, starting with the renaming of the current Hyundai Genesis large sedan to the Genesis G80 in Korea. Australian versions will be rebadged later in 2016.
Eventually, the Genesis family will expand to six rear- and all-wheel-drive models spun off their own unique platform. Some, though not all, are certainly bound for Australia.
These will include a new BMW 3 Series rival, both mid-sized and large SUVs, a new Genesis coupe and an Equus-replacing G90 sedan flagship, all styled by former Volkswagen Group designer Luc Donckerwolke, who joined the company in June.
But despite this push to differentiate Genesis, Hyundai wants to make sure people are well aware the it’s ultimately under the mainstream umbrella. The point is not to downplay Hyundai, but rather to proudly show what it is capable of.
“Genesis will always be a Hyundai brand, tied inexorably to Hyundai, and therefore an opportunity to grow Hyundai’s credibility in those areas — quality, technology and customer experience,” Hyundai Australia marketing director Oliver Mann told us.
“It’s also an example of best practice, so practices that are introduced, processes, behaviours, innovation that are introduced in Genesis will cascade into mainstream Hyundai models and dealer processes.
“It’ll definitely be a sister brand, sold through Hyundai dealers as a ‘store-in-store’ concept.”
Of course — and this is our words here — as well as image considerations, having the Genesis brand in-house does two other things: it allows dealers to up-sell customers more easily, and it saves Hyundai spending a huge sum to establish standalone dealers until the brand has scale.
“The model for Genesis has always been about introducing best practice into Hyundai from a design, distribution and customer experience basis, and therefore improving the offering to Hyundai customers,” Mann added.
As to the question of which Genesis models we can expect to see in Australia, Mann was more circumspect, “given that we don’t have much idea of what shape the product takes”.
“And, to be honest, right-hand-drive [production] is always a business case review within the Hyundai Group,” he added, also citing market opportunities and relative pricing/profitability as factors.
We’d speculate strongly that the G90 won’t come to Australia for some time, though the Genesis performance coupe, the 3 Series-rivalling sedan and the SUV pair would surely attract interest locally — if RHD production is confirmed by Hyundai, whose main markets are left-hook.
We’ll leave the final word on what Hyundai wants to get out of the Genesis sub-brand locally to Mann.
“New luxury customers, more embedded in a luxury experience than a traditional badge,” he said. “Those are buyers it will cater for, and Genesis is already getting some traction there.”