Hyundai’s halo brand

Herald Sun - Motoring - - NEWS - RICHARD BLACK­BURN­

AUS­TRALIA’S new­est luxury brand is tak­ing shape.

Hyundai has ap­pointed for­mer Toy­ota and Lexus ex­ec­u­tive Peter Evans as gen­eral man­ager, Ge­n­e­sis, ahead of the of­fi­cial launch of the brand here next March.

The com­pany has dras­ti­cally cut the num­ber of deal­ers au­tho­rised to sell the Ge­n­e­sis brand — from 165 to just 30.

Hyundai boss Scott Grant says the stream­lin­ing took into ac­count which deal­ers had been most suc­cess­ful in sell­ing the Ge­n­e­sis large car, as well as the qual­ity of their ex­ist­ing show­rooms and sales pro­cesses.

“We have cho­sen deal­ers that have the op­por­tu­nity to sell the car in suf­fi­cient vol­ume to make it work and have the ca­pa­bil­ity in their peo­ple and their pro­cesses to be able to look after a luxury cus­tomer in the right way,” he says.

About a third of the fran­chisees cho­sen al­ready op­er­ate a deal­er­ship for a luxury brand. Those deal­ers met for the first time as a group last week.

Un­like Toy­ota and Nis­san, which op­er­ate their re­spec­tive luxury arms Lexus and Infiniti as stand­alone op­er­a­tions, Hyundai will sell Ge­n­e­sis in ex­ist­ing Hyundai deal­er­ships, in the same way Mini is in­te­grated into BMW deal­er­ships.

First to launch will be an up­date of the cur­rent Ge­n­e­sis sedan, to be re­named the G80. It will be fol­lowed in about 12 months by a smaller sedan de­signed to ri­val the BMW 3 Se­ries. An SUV is likely to fol­low later as the range ex­pands to half a dozen ve­hi­cles.

Grant, a for­mer boss of Lexus Aus­tralia, is un­der no il­lu­sions as to the size of Hyundai’s task but says the po­ten­tial for profit is strong.

“We think that com­mer­cially it’s a di­rec­tion that makes sense and we’ve proved that we can build a high­qual­ity ve­hi­cle,” he says.

He cites es­tab­lish­ing the new name and get­ting cus­tomers to con­sider the brand as the main chal­lenges. He ac­cepts some luxury buy­ers will never con­sider a Ge­n­e­sis.

“We fully recog­nise there are some peo­ple who won’t think the Hyundai brand or the Ge­n­e­sis brand is ap­pro­pri­ate for them and that’s OK,” he says.

“But we also think there’s a new wave of peo­ple com­ing through that are open to dif­fer­ent op­tions and al­ter­na­tives and if our prod­uct is good enough and our ser­vice de­liv­ery and cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence is good enough, there are peo­ple who will con­sider it.”

He says Lexus and Infiniti face the same chal­lenges. “It’s es­sen­tial but not enough to build great prod­ucts. You’ve got to have the X-fac­tor that builds over time and there’s no ques­tion that Mercedes-Benz and BMW in par­tic­u­lar — and more re­cently Audi — have done a re­ally good job of build­ing a brand halo,” he says.

Taster: Ge­n­e­sis con­cept from this year’s New York show; in­set, Hyundai boss Scott Grant

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