SangYup Lee, head of the Hyundai Design Center, says an EV is a must for any luxury brand to be “credible.”

Genesis, the fledgling Korean luxury brand, expects to bring its first all-electric model to market a bit more than two years from now, several company sources confirmed during the debut of the automaker’s first SUV, the GV80, in Miami Beach on Tuesday night.

The spinoff of mainstream Korean carmaker Hyundai, Genesis has offered several possible options in recent years, including an electric supercar, a plug-in hybrid crossover and a battery-powered urban runabout. Like the GV80, it has decided, the brand’s first long-range battery-electric vehicle will opt for a crossover body style.

Genesis officials would not discuss their plans in detail, but SangYup Lee, the lead designer for the GV80 project, made it clear that the brand has to get plugged in, telling that, going forward, “A luxury brand without EVs will not be credible.”

(Genesis GV80 makes its American debut, but won’t be the brand’s only SUV for long)

And considering where the market is going, especially in the U.S., company insiders stressed, there is really no option but to go with a crossover-based platform, at least if a manufacturer expects to generate any real sales. The days in which a carmaker could get away with building a low-volume “compliance car” for California and a handful of other states, is over, one executive stressed.

The first Genesis EV will be a crossover. Could the Vision T concept be the basis for the CUV?

Genesis was slow to get into the SUV game, initially coming to market with three sedans, the G70, G80 and G90 models. It will lag behind key competitors when it comes to getting into the battery-electric vehicle market, as well, but that won’t be a problem, said a senior source, suggesting that if the electric SUV arrives in late 2022 or 2023, as planned, “it will hit right about the time EV sales are really expected to start taking off.”

What’s clear is that there will be a growing array of choices by then. Along with Tesla, Audi and Jaguar already offer long-range battery-SUVs. Cadillac, Ford and Volkswagen are set to follow this year, and Porsche will add an all-electric version of its Macan after the Taycan BEV sports car. Mercedes-Benz and BMW are also getting into the BEV game. Indeed, experts forecast, there will be few manufacturers who don’t have long-range offerings by mid-decade.

That will be particularly true in the luxury market, noted Stephanie Brinley, principal analyst with IHS Consulting.

(Genesis already working up its second SUV)

There are several reason why, starting with the solid performance electric motors can deliver. Meanwhile, luxury buyers are expected to be less sensitive to the price premium for battery vehicles – though costs are expected to come down to the point where BEVs could reach parity with gas-powered vehicles by around 2023, according to a new study by the Boston Consulting Group.

The electric SUV now under development is not likely to be the only electrified vehicle to come from Genesis in the years ahead. While he declined to say whether there’s anything specifically under development, designer Lee said the underlying platform of the GV80 could be modified for battery-drive. He declined to say what form that might take, whether hybrid, plug-in hybrid or all-electric.

The Genesis GV80, at its U.S. debut in Miami Beach, helped to ensure the luxury brand’s first EV will be a crossover.

The original concept version of the GV80, which debuted at the New York International Auto Show in April 2017, used an unusual plug-in drivetrain pairing a hydrogen fuel-cell system with a battery pack. Parent Hyundai is a big proponent of hydrogen technology, offering it in its Nexo crossover. There have been hints from the parent company that a fuel-cell Genesis could come at some point.

Genesis officials also noted that there has been plenty of internal debate about whether to produce one of the other battery-car concepts they have shown since splitting off from the Hyundai brand. That could include either the Essentia, gull-winged, all-electric supercar, or the Mint, a pint-sized urban runabout.

(Genesis Goes Urban With Mint Battery Car)

While both generated plenty of buzz, Genesis has, for now, decided to go with a body style more likely to generate real demand once it comes to market.

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