The rest of the auto industry is finally catching up to Genesis.
Hyundai’s luxury brand launched with a unique selling proposition: buyers didn’t have to go the showroom to test drive or get their new Genesis serviced. Instead, the dealer went to the customer.
Now, 14 months after the Coronavirus pandemic shut down automotive retailers, the industry is increasingly following Genesis’ lead.
The results can be seen in the brand’s April results, when Genesis reached a record sales month with 3,294 units sold, up 309% year-over-year. All three sedans saw year-over-year sales growth including the G70, up 45% to 801 units; the G80, up 170% to 434 units; and the G90 up 75% to 161 units.
Recently, TheDetroitBureau.com had a chance to talk with Mark Del Rosso, president and CEO of Genesis Motor North America, during the launch of the 2022 Genesis G70. He spoke about retail sales, how the sales environment has changed and what the future holds in the road ahead for the company.
Pandemic’s impact on sales
TheDetroitBureau: In light of the pandemic, how have things changed on a retail basis?
Mark Del Rosso: We became much more nimble, much more adaptable, and I’ll give you a few examples on that. The pandemic accentuated the customer demand for at-home services, you couldn’t go anywhere. So we were already in that space. We were the first brand, five years or so ago, to say service valet will come to you.
We were already positioned and our retailers were already positioned for at-home services. All we did was expand it. So then we adopted sales valet, we adopted Genesis concierge, we adopted test drive, that we would bring a vehicle to you. Also, I think through the pandemic, we adopted the ability to digitally interact. So now, all of our dealers are on digital retail solutions. Consumer empowerment is something that we’re embracing at Genesis.
In the old days, maybe 30 years ago when I was a kid, it was “get control the customer and take them through the five-step process: meet/greet, establish rapport, land them on a car, take them for a drive, and write them up.” Now, the modern consumer is curating everything from vacations to dating. So, mobility services should be no different. And we’re now positioned, being a young brave brand, to really receive that, but also to pioneer it as well.”
TDB: After the initial hiccup with your dealers, they’re probably at a point now where they’re used to being the center of a service hub, providing remote service and sales. So, it makes sense that could do that as you become more focused on total mobility solutions.
Del Rosso: Yeah. We just had dinner with a group of dealers, and I think I commented on that last week. You know, it’s not enough today to have just great product. You now have to have a personalized curated experience, because that’s what the customer wants. They want it tailored to them. So, I think there’s always going to be a dealership, because some people like going to the dealership. I do personally. I love going to the dealership; It’s something I enjoy doing, and some people still enjoy it.
But it’s up to the consumer. Do they want to pick up their car after service or do you want us to bring it to you? Do you want to take delivery after you buy your car at the dealership or do you want us to bring it to you? It’s all the idea of the consumer is really curating the experience and we’re there to provide that to them.”
TDB: Talk about the new GV80 SUV. How well is that doing for you?
Del Rosso: Candidly, I’ve only seen lightning strike a few times in my career, very few. And it’s magic. It is absolutely magic. You can see when a car is a success by the trim that people are buying. You know in that market, it’s more 4 cylinder than 6 cylinder in the segment; we’re much more 6 cylinder than 4 cylinder in that segment.
TDB: What’s the breakdown?
Del Rosso: I want to say it’s like 60-70% 6 cylinder — and its Prestige, the max package. And we actually had to go back to our parent company, and I begged the production and engineering side to please allow us to order more V-6 3.5-liter engines with the Prestige Package because that’s what the consumer wants. But Jose Munoz, the global CEO of Hyundai and CEO of North America for Hyundai, Genesis etc., was the first to say it. “The Genesis customer knows what they want; they don’t care what the segments doing.”
And if you look at even the G70, the majority of G70 sales are in a 4-cylinder engine segment. We’re moving to more of a 50/50, if not higher, 6-cylinder mix. So, it’s amazing what’s happening with the Genesis buyer. But going back to GV80, last month we sold 1,894 GV 80s; all-time best ever. Dealers are saying, ‘if you sent me truckloads tomorrow, I can sell them. I have a long waiting list.’
It’s really a magical vehicle, but I think it’s going to happen again with GV70.
Demand for SUVs
TDB: You don’t have enough SUVs right now?
Del Rosso: Oh totally not.
TDB: How long do you think it will be before the pipeline gets filled to where you need it to be?
Del Rosso: You know, I’m very careful with the economics. I think manufacturers tend to get a little too ahead of themselves. It’s always supply and demand. And right now, it’s a good position to be in that demand is outstripping supply.
And the reason why I say this, one of the key tenants of luxury is scarcity. You know there’s authenticity, materials, craftsmanship — and scarcity. You know, it’s really a unique position when you’re on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles, or in Malibu on Pacific Coast Highway, and you’re the only GV80. I think that’s our challenge, to make sure that it’s always in demand, and we’ll do that very, very carefully.
TDB: Isn’t the scarcity semiconductor related?
Del Rosso: You know, Jose says, and I actually believe it, that Genesis is the jewel of the Hyundai Motor Group. It’s the premium brand, and I feel like we’ve gotten more than I could have ever expected in my wildest dreams from a supply point of view. The great news is globally it’s doing so well, that we all want more production on a global basis, but we’re being rewarded with success.
Anticipation of electrification
TDB: Talk a little bit about the electrification plans. Should we really take you seriously given that you starting with a sedan rather than an SUV?
Del Rosso: You know, Genesis has done it right from the beginning, to set the foundation with the sedans, all capturing market share and segments that everyone said were going to go away. You know we’re doing quite well, and we’re earning that customer business. SUV: yes, we’re a little bit late to the game, but the reality is we’re in the game and it’s working. The GV70 is coming in the summer.
Electrification is part of the product strategy going forward. The modern consumer is demanding it, no doubt about it. So, we have a portfolio of products that are being readied for market. So, while in Shanghai, we announced the electrified G80. We have other products that are going to come, and that are in the pipeline, and judging by the reaction of the world with our concept vehicle, and what’s possible even within that vehicle. I think everyone’s waiting for what’s next.
TDB: I imagine that since you’re now considering yourself a mobility solution provider, that come electrification, there will also be charging options as well as services for the EV customer.
Del Rosso: Yes, very good point. I think it’s very astute of you to comment on that in the context of when you think about a modern mobility provider. It goes beyond the vehicle. It goes to the experience and being able to curate the experience, whether that’s charging as well. I think that’s the unique proposition right now. If you look back at our history, please know that customer is at the core of everything that we do.
TDB: At what point do you see you think you’ll start producing cars in America?Del Rosso: Yeah, you know, I wouldn’t say it’s impossible. Again, anything is possible. We’re going to have to stay tuned on that, but right now we’re importing everything from Korea. I think as the brand continues to grow, and we’re getting more and more success — you know, to have predicted to double our sales this year, which GV80, G80, and our electrified vehicle — anything is possible.