Well, things are certainly getting heated between competitors in the auto industry right now. A BMW executive recently described the Mercedes X-Class luxury pickup as “appalling,” despite admitting that the firm is considering entering the premium pickup segment. Then Lewis Hamilton taunted Ferrari claiming that AMG can build a better supercar. And now the boss of Hyundai and Genesis seemingly got out the wrong side of the bed one morning, accusing luxury automakers like BMW and Mercedes of putting too much focus on “stupid” tech.
The head of Hyundai’s N and Genesis divisions Albert Biermann, who also used to head BMW’s M division, made the comments to Australian publication Drive during the launch of the new Genesis G70 in South Korea. He believes that automakers like BMW and Mercedes-Benz spend too much time and money on unnecessary technology that customers don’t want, which he sees as being too complicated and prone to failure. “It’s all marketing, first of all,” Biermann said. “How many people really buy it later on? Much of this exists for media, to give a hype, to show the technology level. But how many people really buy it later on? If the tech will fail, you’re just adding the burden to the buyer, right?”
Simply put, Biermann feels that automakers are putting too much focus into media and marketing and not the actual product – and this is coming from someone who worked at BMW for 30 years and led its M division, so he isn't inexperienced. He also thinks that quality testing for German cars has slipped, but that’s not the case for Genesis. “Our testing is much more intense,” he said. “We have 30,000 km test driving in [Hyundai’s research and development headquarters] Namyang, with all the bad cobblestones and potholes you cannot imagine. We run our cars there for 30,000 km, and then on top of that we do 10,000 km at the Nurburgring.”
“I don’t think anyone else is doing that anymore – maybe Porsche or Ferrari, but all the other guys they’ve stepped down from 10,000 km to 8000 km or 5000 km. And some, they do nothing anymore.” Instead of focusing on fancy technology, Biermann believes the key to Genesis’s success is building reliable cars that will still feel like-new 10 years later. “In our G90 you will not find any air suspension, or active roll-bars, or active whatever. A camera sensing the road, and this stuff. It’s stupid. We have a solid Hyundai steel platform, tonnes of high-strength steel – okay, it’s a little bit heavier than the other cars – and we have adjustable shock absorbers, and that’s it.”