The UK will be the main target of Genesis when the marque is launched in Europe in 2020, according to brand boss Manfred Fitzgerald.
Hyundai’s luxury arm launched as a brand in its own right in 2016, focusing on US and Asian markets but with the expectation that it would eventually arrive in Europe. However, until now, it has been unclear if and when right-hand- drive models would be offered.
A model called the Hyundai Genesis was previously sold in the UK. However, the large Audi A6-rivalling saloon (which has since morphed into the G80 saloon elsewhere) sold only 50 units in two years and was axed in 2017. That has left a clear path for the Genesis brand to enter the UK.
Former Lamborghini brand and design boss Fitzgerald said: “We’ll be entering the European market in the next couple of years. That said, in that market, we’ll be focusing on the UK. We’re definitely building right- hand-drive cars for 2020.”
Genesis’s line-up is currently spearheaded by three saloons, but two SUVs – a BMW X5 rival called the GV80 and a Jaguar E-Pace competitor named the GV70 – will arrive in 2020. Given the still-growing demand for SUVs, the GV80 and GV70 will be crucial in making a dent in the European market, but Fitzgerald said it will launch its entire range here.
“To launch the brand, you come with your entire product portfolio,” he said. “It’s not about volume. If it were, then you would go for a specific body type. Instead, it’s a brand- building exercise.”
Genesis will launch its first electric model by 2021 but it will not be a production version of the recently revealed electric Essentia GT concept. Although Fitzgerald said the Essentia GT is likely to make production in 2021 or 2022, it is not yet confirmed. The first zero- emissions Genesis is instead expected to be the G80, the launch of the next-generation saloon set to coincide with that of an electric variant.
Despite reports of plug- in hybrid versions of the GV70 and GV80, Fitzgerald is unconvinced by such technology. “I’m not so sold on plug-in hybrid,” he said. “They have a lot of issues and we’re still looking at all options. Internal combustion engines or pure electric are our favourite options.”
Can Genesis succeed in the UK?
Not easily. As a case in point, Nissan-owned Infiniti is still struggling to make ground a decade after being launched here, with expensive cars inferior to premium German rivals. It sold 3515 cars in the UK in 2017 compared with BMW’s 175,101. Lexus, Toyota’s luxury brand, has fared a little better, making an early niche for itself with its hybrid offerings.
Even so, Lexus sold only 12,670 cars last year in the UK. On Genesis’s side is a strong line-up of experienced execs – Manfred Fitzgerald from Lamborghini, Luc Donckerwolke from Bentley, Audi and Lamborghini, and Albert Biermann from BMW M – all of whom will know what’s required to succeed here: a strong brand, respectable driving dynamics and a competitive price.