Wisely, Hyundai’s Genesis Brand Will Not Move Any Further Downmarket

First, Hyundai wanted American consumers to accept the XG300 as a luxury car alternative. If two decades ago such an idea seemed ludicrous, the XG300 — later the XG350 and then the Azera — set the stage for 2018, a year in which a Hyundai luxury spinoff, Genesis, would complete its luxury sedan lineup.

Yes, complete.

Genesis Motors launched in the United States one year ago with the full-size G90 sedan (the Hyundai Equus in a prior generation) and midsize G80 sedan (renamed from the Hyundai Genesis). In September 2017, we saw the production version of the BMW 3 Series-rivalling Genesis G70, set to arrive in showrooms this winter.

Yet while there will be more vehicles from Genesis, including SUVs and quite likely a coupe, Genesis senior vice president Manfred Fitzgerald says the sedan lineup is complete. The fledgling brand will not be moving downmarket into the CLA250/A3/CT200h arena.

For the sake of Genesis Motors’ luxury aspirations, that’s a good thing. Speaking to CarAdvice at the launch of the G70 in Seoul, Manfred Fitzgerald told the Aussie publication, “We have a pretty clear strategy planned out with what we want to do. Therefore the sedan line-up is pretty complete with the G90, G80 and G70.”

Fitzgerald told Car And Driver that, rather than looking four or five years down the road, he looks five or ten years into the future and hopes to get to a place where “Made in Korea” is established with a premium orientation. To do so, the brand would be poorly served by the kind of downmarket push that can reflect poorly even on storied brands.

“Going lower than that [G70], like the others are — I don’t think that is in our playbook,” Fitzgerald says. “Other brands, due to their history and where they’re going from where they are, they might think otherwise.”

In other words, Mercedes-Benz’s S-Class, AMG GT, SL-Class, GLS-Class, and numerous other models have secured the brand’s premium image, affording them the opportunity to stretch the brand’s parameters. As for Genesis’ operations in the U.S., Fitzgerald says, “We’re nowhere in terms of awareness.”

The brand boss is still happy to see the sales results achieved by the G80 and G90, particularly in the context of that awareness gap. 20,314 Genesis G80/G90 sedans have been sold in America since August 2016, a tiny number compared with the 27,000 cars and SUVs sold by Mercedes-Benz USA every month, but a number that lacks a measure of relevance until Genesis has its own network.

Already, you’ll recall, those plans are in flux. Only months after the first Genesis sales, the brand’s U.S. boss, Erwin Raphael, revealed his feelings about the dealer network.

It was too large.

More recently, Raphael revealed plans to adjust the brand’s dealer plans sooner and more thoroughly than previously expected. This whole G80-beside-an-Accent methodology ain’t ideal. A $29,999 Genesis G60 posing as a luxury car wouldn’t the brand any favors, either.

[Images: Genesis Motors]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and Autofocus.ca and the founder and former editor of GoodCarBadCar.net. Follow on Twitter @timcaincars and Instagram.

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