Hyundai's luxury brand is on its way up, but it needs some help.
Hyundai made the right decision when it decided to spin off the Genesis and Equus sedans into their own luxury brand. Genesis is now adding its third model to the range - the BMW 3 Series-rivaling G70. We think the Genesis brand has the potential to rival the likes of Acura, Infiniti, and even Lexus. Unfortunately, the Korean luxury brand hasn't hit that level of recognition yet for several reasons. We have come up with five improvements that, if made, should help the Genesis brand become a world-class luxury automaker.
One true sign of a world-class luxury automaker is the presence of a flagship sports car. BMW has the i8, Mercedes has the AMG GT, even Lexus has the LC500. Genesis needs its own bespoke sports car to sit at the top of the lineup and make the other cars cool better - this is known as the halo effect. As we've seen with concept cars like the Essentia, Genesis has the ability to design a stunning sports car.
While the we can immaturely beg Genesis to build a cool sports car, the rational decision would be for Genesis to build SUVs. A halo car would help Genesis in a symbolic way, but SUVs would help the brand exponentially increase its sales figures. Genesis has plans for several SUV models, but with the popularity of utility vehicles, the company can't afford to wait to get them to market. We have seen how the introduction of an SUV like the F-Pace worked wonders for the Jaguar brand, and it would likely do the same for Genesis.
Typically, when an automaker has fully established itself, it can brand out with a performance line. Sub-brands such as BMW M, Mercedes AMG, and recent additions such as Lexus F have all been massive successes for their parent brands. Of course, performance lines don't always work out if they are done too soon, like Infiniti's ill-conceived IPL brand. We believe Genesis is ready for a performance brand, and Hyundai's N Division would be a nice start. We'd love to see an M3-rivaling G70 N or an M5-rivaling G80 N, but it seems Hyundai is content to leave the N badge on the Veloster only for now.
The Genesis brand is missing a few items that will be extremely important in the luxury segment. SUVs must be made a priority, but hybrids and EVs must also be high on Genesis' priorities list. Almost every luxury automaker builds some form of hybrid or EV, except Genesis. In order to remain competitive, the Korean brand must start contemplating electrified models.
Perhaps the most important thing Genesis needs to do is get a clean divorce from Hyundai. American buyers hate the prospect of buying a luxury product at a non-premium location. Hence why models like the Kia K900 and Volkswagen Phaeton didn't take off in the US market. In what we believe was a lapse of judgement, Hyundai recently announced that all of its dealers will have the opportunity to sell Genesis models. In order for the brand to truly succeed, Genesis needs to create a luxury buying experience so it can entice people into treating it as a luxury brand.