HYUNDAI boss Tony Whitehorn has revealed more details about his plans for the Genesis brand in the UK.
Last week we exclusively revealed that one route to market Hyundai might take would be to set up Genesis as a premium brand to rival Lexus and Infiniti.
Whitehorn told us then he would want at least 20 per cent of his 152 dealers set up as Genesis outlets with dedicated salesman dealing with the premium brand.
Now the Hyundai chief has exclusively told Car Dealer that Hyundai is actually considering a number of different plans for Genesis sales in the UK – but hasn’t yet decided which one to take.
‘There are three different routes to market that Hyundai could take,’ he told Car Dealer.
‘This could be by specific training to ensure we have a proficient sales network, a shop-in-shop set-up to make Genesis more exclusive, or a completely separate franchise.
‘A complete separation away from the Hyundai brand would be unlikely, but we will consider all options. The way that the Hyundai brand is growing offers us many opportunities and we must review them all.’
Since the story broke, a number of dealers have been in touch with Car Dealer with concerns about how the Genesis opportunity would work.
Most were excited about the models – a sporty coupe, pictured above, executive saloon and luxury limousine – but voiced fears about how it would fit into their business models.
Whitehorn, pictured right, told us: ‘The Genesis models, as shown at the Paris Motor Show, are a great example of the type of cars we can now produce as a brand.
‘Hyundai executives considered starting a totally new brand in the US, as Toyota did with Lexus and Honda with Acura, but decided instead that it made sense to create new models under the Hyundai name.
‘For the UK market, there are no definite plans for Genesis as yet, but we are hopeful.’
The Genesis models are very different to the existing Hyundai range. The Coupe is a rival to the Nissan 370Z while the Saloon, aims to take on the Mercedes-Benz E-Class. The luxury limousine Equus will go up against the Lexus LS and Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
Whitehorn knows it would be a tough challenge to bring Genesis to the UK – especially considering the hard times Lexus and Infiniti have faced.
He added: ‘The luxury brand segment is highly different from any other aspect of the market and requires a different type of skill and specialism. If Genesis models did come to the UK, it would be very challenging.’
Currently trials are taking place in Europe to see how buyers react to Genesis – these couldn’t take place here as no right-hand drive cars are available. They’ll arrive in late 2012 and the plans for dealers could be rolled out in 2013.
Exclusive by JAMES BAGGOTT