Genesis puts cars first, but SUV the key

With Genesis being a separate brand, it’s also set to become a distinct family here – but the distributor agrees the future new model it desires most is one still under wraps.


ADDING a second, larger and more luxurious sedan to its elite Genesis family will earn Hyundai New Zealand more status points in the top drawer division – but truly relevant sales penetration within that sector will only occur with a sports utility that remains a mystery project.

“Clearly the sports utility is going to be most important,” says Andy Sinclair, HNZ boss, speaking about the impending local market push for South Korea’s Lexus equivalent.

“The fall of the passenger car and the rise of the SUV is obvious, this year the SUV will overtake the passenger car in sales. So clearly, if you have a segment that is growing like that, then you need to be in it.

“So, any one that they make that is Genesis branded will be very popular.”

But there’s thing. While Genesis – established as a luxury Hyundai sedan, at $99,990 the most expensive car Seoul sells here, but relaunching locally next year at a time yet to be determined as a standalone brand, as Lexus is to Toyota – has indicated it will include at least one SUV/crossover among the six new models it will produce before 2020, so far it has chosen to reveal just the road-based cars on its agenda: Three sedans and a coupe.

While there have been hits of at least one crossover also being in development, no-one knows what it will be - a version of the Santa Fe, Hyundai NZ’s No.1 with 25 percent brand share (smaller sibling Tucson is right behind) or perhaps a wholly new product.

Sinclair’s personal view is that there will ultimately be three elevated vehicles bearing Genesis badging.

“It makes sense to have a small, medium and large.”

What chance of the ‘large’ being bigger than Santa Fe? “I’d be speculating but maybe they might base it on the long-wheelbase Santa Fe (sold in North America). Certainly, they have the potential to use that platform.”

The first true Genesis here is almost certainly going to be the G90 pictured, a petrol V8 four-door limo of similar size and sophistication as the BMW 7-Series, Mercedes S-Class and Lexus LS.

A car unveiled to the world at the New York motor show two months ago will sit with – and perhaps cost twice as much as – the current Genesis, which by then will have been refreshed and renamed the G80.

Sinclair says head office has still to sign off G90 for right-hand drive, but the assumption is that it will be produced in that format. Which is why some NZ media will get to to experience it when visiting South Korea soon.

Both will be sold as the Hyundai-badged model is now, from select Hyundai dealers who dedicate a section of the showroom to the brand.

“It will evolve. We have our dealers now that stock Genesis (and) clearly we wouldn’t enforce a policy for every dealer having to be a Genesis dealer. There won’t be separate dealerships, there will be separate areas within a dealership and there will be a brand specialist.”

Sinclair declines to say how much business he expects from the new car, but conceivably it won’t be a big number.

Although the Hyundai Genesis has sold well enough to earn its keep, the year-to-date count of just six units reinforces that large luxury sedans are a very select choice. In the same period Hyundai has moved 562 Santa Fe.

Even though G90 will deliver an eight-cylinder alternate to the current V6 offer, is there need two cars of still similar status here?

Says Sinclair: “We have always taken what is available if we think it could sell in the NZ market. There would be no reason not to take it (G90) even though it would not be a big volume.”

We might yet also in time see the G70, a BMW 3-Series/Mercedes C-Class/Lexus IS fighter, and the G60, a large luxury coupe, though as yet there is no guarantee all will be produced in right-hand drive.

Nonetheless, Sinclair knows the SUV is the top paydirt model with potential to be as dominant for Genesis as Santa Fe is for Hyundai.

“I think you just to to look at Santa Fe and Tucson – if you combine them then they comprise just over half our (Hyundai sales). So I would expect that if we had a Genesis SUV it might even take more than half of (Genesis volume). It makes sense.”