No one said starting a new luxury brand would be easy. But having only a pair of large sedans to kick off Genesis' entry into the elite world of automobiles isn't making things easier for Hyundai dealers.
"Was it the most optimal way to launch the brand? Maybe not from a dealer's opinion," said Andrew DiFeo, chairman of the Hyundai National Dealer Council and general manager of Hyundai of St. Augustine in Florida. "It's difficult to launch the brand with two products, even though they're great products, but they are in segments that are slowing down, the luxury sedan, midsize and full-size."
The Genesis lineup is made up of the full-size G90 sedan, formerly the Hyundai Equus, and the G80 sedan, previously sold as the Hyundai Genesis. While the vehicles have been well-received (the G90 was one of three finalists for North American Car of the Year), the luxury sedan market is weakening across the board thanks to growing demand for crossovers and SUVs.
In addition to a thin stable of products, dealers looking to expand into the Genesis side of the market are facing significant costs to do so. While DiFeo characterized the initial costs as "reasonable," dealers have been concerned with monthly costs related to training and ancillary products such as service valet or digital retailing that they say could have been delayed.
But for the most part, Hyundai dealers know what they're getting into.
"Would we like to have the Genesis brand for free? Of course," DiFeo said. "But we know that there needs to be some minor facility improvements and, more importantly, the experience we're providing these luxury customers, we need training for that and support from the brand."
Part of this appreciation stems from the fact that Hyundai dealers know they were fortunate to have the opportunity to sell Genesis at all. The automaker could have started a separate retail network and offered the points to dealers with other luxury brands. "But they didn't do that," DiFeo said. "They went to their Hyundai dealer network and gave us the opportunity."