Genesis G70 finally appears, but mostly on TV

Genesis G70 finally appears, but mostly on TV

- in Automotive

The svelte 2019 Genesis G70 has marked its turf on the “Monday Night Football” halftime show this season with stylish black-and-white promos that give consumers a game-day glimpse of the next phase of Korean luxury.

Meanwhile, many dealers are playing a waiting game, looking forward to their first shipments of the luxury sedans and more information on requirements to keep selling Genesis products.

Even in a crossover-heavy luxury market, hopes are high for the sporty sedan, which is expected to broaden the Genesis buyer base by drawing younger consumers, more women and the tech-savvy. It’s the first Genesis product that isn’t a carryover from the Hyundai brand.

And dealers are pleased with the pricing strategy, which includes a $35,895 entry-level option — the same price as the rival BMW 3 series — and a series of upper trim levels that can push the price to $53,245. Prices include shipping.

A Genesis spokesman told Automotive News the first G70s have been shipped, and that the brand expects 100 to 200 dealers to have them by year end.

That’s the latest update in a timeline that has continually slid. When it debuted, the G70 was projected to reach U.S. showrooms in spring 2018. Then the release window shifted to summer amid tumult over the brand’s retail strategy. Now, three weeks into fall, cars are trickling into selected markets.

Atlanta is one of those markets. Genesis of Atlanta received close to 10 G70s this month and began selling them as soon as they arrived.

The dealership is hosting a launch event for the sedan on Thursday, Oct. 18, that is to feature private showings, refreshments and test drives. The cars will be outfitted with cameras to capture the reactions of the drivers.

Atlanta is among the brand’s top-performing markets.

“We’ve gotten a lot of floor traffic on the car,” said John Noaker, sales manager for Genesis of Atlanta and Jim Ellis Hyundai. “We’re getting people we haven’t seen before from other brands. It’s opening some doors. These are former Mercedes buyers, BMW buyers.”

Test drive for dealer

The shipments can’t get here soon enough for Gregory Mauro, who owns Gregory Hyundai in Highland Park, Ill. Mauro said a regional manager for the brand recently brought a G70 to him for a test drive.

Mauro said he expects to get the sedan this month, which is good news, but he had hoped to have it in the summer.

“It’s frustrating. You’ve got people coming in [asking], ‘You got it yet?’ Nope,” Mauro said. “Some of those people, their leases are up, so they’ve probably already bought something else.”

He said Genesis is offering “a lot of car” for the money and believes the top trim levels will do the most business at his suburban Chicago store.

For others, the expected arrival date is less clear.

South Florida is one of Genesis’ highest-volume markets, but the G70 isn’t yet available in the state. Andrew DiFeo, chairman of the Hyundai National Dealer Council, said in late September that he expected the G70 to go on sale in Florida in the next 60 days. Allocations, he said, should begin soon.

DiFeo, whose store is in St. Augustine in northern Florida, said he believes the G70’s upper trims will get plenty of attention early but the base model could draw consumers who have “luxury aspirations.”

The starting price, he said, is “competitive for such a well-reviewed product.” Having a strong lease offer at launch will be key, he added.

Rapper Flo Rida with the Genesis G70 on the “Monday Night Football” halftime show on ESPN

New state license

Dustin Walters, COO of Friendship Automotive Enterprises, is unsure when he’ll get the G70 at his Bristol, Tenn., store. He, like all Hyundai dealers moving forward with Genesis, had to apply for a new state license to sell the brand.

He said the company sent him a dealer code worksheet with pricing information on all the trims and packages, which is usually one of the last steps before a shipment arrives.

He predicts that the base level G70 will likely be the most popular in his market and battle with the BMW 3 series, Mercedes-Benz C class and Lexus IS.

Another Southern dealer said he doesn’t know when the sedan will arrive, but he’s not going to bug Genesis about it. He said he’s just grateful that he’ll be able to sell Genesis models beyond 2018, now that the brand has backed away from a plan to shrink its dealer count and separate its retail network from Hyundai’s.

“When they were talking about only having 100 Genesis dealers,” he said, “they weren’t going to have one in Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina or Arkansas.”

As of late September, Genesis is an authorized distributor in 45 states, while a spokesman said the brand is working closely with the other five to finalize its licenses.

‘Absolute craziness’

After the about-face in retail plans in April, the opportunity to sell Genesis was offered to all Hyundai dealers in the U.S. as long as they agreed to open standalone Genesis stores by January 2021.

But now even that timetable is considered flexible. A spokesman said via email that the brand will still “strongly encourage facilities being built, particularly in key markets, as quickly as plans, permitting, etc. will allow.”

The brand added that it’s developing final specs for the standalone dealerships and expects that it will have to help some dealers set them up. The repositioning has taken a toll on sales. They’re down 41 percent through September, to 8,909.

For now, Walters said, dealers are operating under the showroom-within-a-showroom model, but long-term specifics on building new stores are “loose right now.”

“It’s been very little communication on the whole plan,” he said. “We have a facility that we are underutilizing that could work based on what they’re looking for.”

Another dealer told Automotive News that he has washed his hands of the Genesis business altogether, frustrated by the ever-evolving retail plan.

He has sold his interest in his dealership, leaving his partner to run the operation without him, though he hasn’t ruled out getting back in someday.

“That was absolute craziness with Genesis. I was done,” he said. “I want to move on to another manufacturer and do something else.”

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