Only Just Underway, Hyundai's Genesis Motors Boss Already Wants Fewer U.S. Dealers

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain
only just underway hyundai s genesis motors boss already wants fewer u s dealers

There’s no denying the strategy behind Hyundai’s Genesis Motors luxury brand is unusual. By its very nature, the contrived launch of a new Korean luxury marque — more than a century after the dawn of America’s favourite luxury brand, Mercedes-Benz — is going to differ in a multitude of ways.

Genesis intends to maximize the possibility for consumers to shop for their cars online, for instance. And Genesis owners won’t need to take cars to dealers for servicing — valets will provide pickup and delivery.

Yet one aspect of a new brand’s U.S. launch is nevertheless set in stone: dealers.

Genesis Motors has 350 dealers inside Hyundai’s U.S. showrooms, Wards Auto reports. Genesis Motors’ general manager Erwin Raphael wants a different number.

A smaller number.

Hyundai only turned its Genesis sedan into the Genesis G80 three months ago, opening up its U.S. Genesis Motors effort with 3,807 G80 sales between August and October. Essentially a second-generation replacement for the Hyundai Equus, the larger Genesis G90 attracted an additional 102 paying customers in the last two months.

Of course, these aren’t the kinds of figures we can expect to see from Genesis Motors as the upstart premium marque further establishes itself and adds more models. A smaller G70, a couple of crossovers, and an indirect replacement for the cancelled Hyundai Genesis Coupe will dramatically alter the Genesis portfolio in the next four to five years.

In the present, however, Genesis Motors’ 350 current dealers are selling fewer than four cars per month.

“We may see that (350) figure go down,” Raphael said at the J.D. Power Automotive Marketing Roundtable late last month in Las Vegas. “I think it is too high. We’ve talked to dealers about it. Throughput is important.”

It’s not difficult to follow the circular thinking. Hyundai dealers that have made hay by selling an average of 80 new vehicles per month — dealers that typically sold approximately four Genesis sedans and coupes per month, as well — aren’t going to be keen on investing in high-end showrooms for a limited number of sales. (Lexus stores lead the U.S. premium market in sales-per-franchise with an average of more than 110 new vehicles sales per month.)

Dealers that don’t invest in the showcasing of Genesis vehicles will make it difficult for the Genesis brand to cement a premium image. Without a suitably premium image for Genesis Motors, dealers will be unlikely to sell a particularly high number of G80s and G90s per month. And we’re back to the beginning.

But if Genesis Motors targeted the Hyundai dealers that would best cater to upmarket clientele, rather than allowing nearly half of all Hyundai stores to feature Genesis products, the committed Genesis dealers would perhaps be more likely to see the fruits of their labors. This would enhance the likelihood that Genesis Motors could have stand-alone showrooms sooner rather than later.

In the meantime, because a new dealer network was not deemed possible on timing grounds, Hyundai is left with 350 Genesis showrooms inside Hyundai dealers. Genesis Motors therefore has built-in features — an online emphasis and valet servicing — that keep G80 and G90 buyers away from your neighborhood Hyundai-store-that-also-sells-luxury-cars. Genesis Motors’ Erwin Raphael wants less of that, but he was careful to avoid offending that large dealer base. “We’re proud to have them with us.”

[Images: Genesis & Hyundai]

Timothy Cain is the founder of, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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  • 28-Cars-Later 28-Cars-Later on Nov 07, 2016

    They will need at least 933 to achieve Cadillac levels of success.

    • See 1 previous
    • Sal Collaziano Sal Collaziano on Nov 27, 2016

      @Corey Lewis I'd certainly take a Continental over an Equus - but the Equus is gone. The G90 is Genesis Motors' flagship...

  • Shedkept Shedkept on Nov 08, 2016

    Genesis fall under the industry average according to Long Term Quality Index. Lexus, Lincoln, Acura are the top 3. Jaguar is a "0" with the BMW 7 Series 2nd to last. Average to below average isn't a car in my future.

    • Ponchoman49 Ponchoman49 on Nov 08, 2016

      The new Continental is so gimmicky and tech laden that I'm having doubts in it's first couple of model years as far as reliability and quality control are concerned. Time will tell

  • Sayahh Is it 1974 or 1794? The article is inconsistent.
  • Laura I just buy a Hyndai Elantra SEL, and My car started to have issues with the AC dont work the air sometimes is really hot and later cold and also I heard a noice in the engine so I went to the dealer for the first service and explain what was hapenning to the AC they told me that the car was getting hot because the vent is not working I didnt know that the car was getting hot because it doesnt show nothing no sign no beep nothing I was surprise and also I notice that it needed engine oil, I think that something is wrong with this car because is a model 23 and I just got it on April only 5 months use. is this normal ? Also my daughter bought the same model and she went for a trip and the car also got hot and it didnt show up in the system she called them and they said to take the car to the dealer for a check up I think that if the cars are new they shouldnt be having this problems.
  • JamesGarfield What charging network does the Polestar use?
  • JamesGarfield Re: Getting away from union plantsAbout a dozen years or so ago, Caterpillar built a huge new engine plant, just down the road here in Seguin TX. Story has it, Caterpillar came to Seguin City council in advance, and told them their plans. Then they asked for no advanced publicity from Seguin, until announcement day. This new plant was gonna be a non-union replacement for a couple of union plants in IL and SC, and Cat didn't want to stir up union problems until the plan was set. They told Seguin, If you about blab this in advance, we'll walk. Well, Seguin kept quiet as instructed, and the plan went through, with all the usual expected tax abatements given.Plant construction began, but the Caterpillar name was conspicuously absent from anywhere on the site. Instead, the plant was described as being a collective of various contractors and suppliers for Caterpillar. Which in fact, it was. Then comes the day, with the big new plant fully operationa!, that Caterpillar comes in and announces, Hey, Yeah it's our plant, and the Caterpillar name boldly goes up on the front. All you contractor folks, welcome aboard, you're now Caterpillar employees. Then, Cat turns and announces they are closing those two union plants immediately, and will be transporting all the heavy manufacturing equipment to Seguin. None of the union workers, just the equipment. And today, the Caterpillar plant sits out there, humming away happily, making engines for the industry and good paying jobs for us. I'd call that a winner.
  • Stuki Moi What Subaru taketh away in costs, dealers will no doubt add right back in adjustments.... Fat chance Subaru will offer a sufficient supply of them.