After a painfully slow start, the Genesis brand is finally showing a bit of momentum, with year-over-year sales gains for the past five months. That said, it’s still barely an asterisk on the luxury market sales charts – and likely to stay that way until it catches up with changing market trends, according to Chief Operating Officer Erwin Raphael.
Finally, there may be some light showing up at the end of the tunnel, he said during a sales call, noting that the Hyundai spinoff is finally locking down plans to roll out its first utility vehicle, something critical in a market where sedans and coupes are rapidly losing ground to SUVs and CUVs.
But just as significantly, the three-row model that is the production version of the luxury brand’s 2017 concept SUV will soon have company in the Genesis showrooms just beginning to pop up around the country.
“We’re very excited to introduce the GV80 about 11 months from now. Next May (or) June,” Raphael said. “Then maybe 10 or 11 months after that, a compact crossover SUV built on the G70 platform.”
On top of the two crossovers under development, Genesis appears to be looking at opportunities to enter other market segments. These could be as diverse as a production model based on the all-electric Mint city car concept that was introduced at the New York International Auto Show three months ago, as well as a take on the wildly popular Essentia supercar prototype that was revealed at NY’s Jacob Javits Convention Center a year earlier.
Like its parent, the Hyundai Motor Group, Genesis is completely serious about branching out from the gas engines that power its three current models, the G70, G80 and G90 sedans. Raphael, CEO Manfred Fitzgerald and other company officials have openly discussed their intent to adopt various battery-based technologies, including all-electric drive. The luxury brand also is looking at ways to adopt the hydrogen technology that Hyundai is developing, most recently fitting a fuel-cell driveline in the little Nexo SUV.
While company officials have been cautious about revealing too many details ahead of time, they’ve made it clear that the two Genesis SUVs won’t take shortcuts, mounting high-line bodies on existing Hyundai Group platforms – despite the solid reviews those two automakers are receiving for their new three-row models, the Hyundai Palisade and Kia Telluride.
The GV80 is expected to be based on the next-generation G80 platform and, as Raphael revealed in the conference call, the GV70 will be based on the same architecture as the well-reviewed G70 sedan. Considering it has been called one of the most credible alternatives to a BMW 3-Series in years, that’s not a bad starting point.
Look for the bigger of the two Genesis utes to share the same two engines currently found in the G80 sedan, a 3.8-liter V-6 and a 5.0-liter V-8. They’ll be offered in both rear- and all-wheel-drive configurations.
The GV70, meanwhile, will have an assortment of powertrain options that may, according to some reports, include a 2.0-liter turbo-four and a twin-turbo 3.3-liter V-6.
In concept form, the GV80 was powered by a fuel-cell system. That doesn’t appear likely to return in production on the big, three-row model, though there is speculation it also could offer a plug-in hybrid option, no surprise considering where the market is going.
As for a full battery-electric vehicle, TheDetroitBureau.com has been told that this likely won’t make it into Genesis showrooms until 2021.
As for the dealer network, the brand took the risky step of dropping Hyundai dealers in order to set up its own distribution network. That has gone a bit slower than expected, especially in some critical markets, such as Texas, but things appear to be falling into place, finally, a key reason the Genesis brand sales are up sharply this year in an otherwise down market.