2017 NYIAS: Genesis GV80 Hydrogen Fuel Cell Concept

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Genesis Motors doesn’t exactly have the most diverse lineup in the industry. Hyundai may have only cut it loose as a standalone brand a couple of years ago, but its current showroom offerings amount to a full-sized luxury sedan and its little (midsized) brother. Genesis is working on fleshing itself out, though. The brand has plans to bring six new models to market before 2021 — including two all-important sport utility vehicles.

Providing us with a “subtle glimpses into the bold future,” Genesis has brought its GV80 Concept SUV to the New York International Auto Show. But if this is supposed to be a taste of what’s to come from Hyundai Motor Group’s premium luxury brand, there is reason to worry about its future. It isn’t because the concept is a plug-in hydrogen fuel cell electric — although a case could be made — but because the path its styling has taken is more than a little perplexing.

“There is a unique energy and diverse global culture to New York that is fitting for Genesis, and we are excited to unveil the GV80 Concept here,” said Genesis head Manfred Fitzgerald in an official statement. “This concept is an important milestone for the brand to share our vision of the future, introducing a further expansion of our product portfolio.”

Yesterday I saw a man wearing a rhinestone-encrusted Yankee’s cap going on a rant over the Vietnamese sandwich he had recently purchased, so I think know the specific type of New York energy and diverse global culture Fitzgerald is referencing.

“The GV80 Concept is a SUV that alludes to the confidence and evolution of the Genesis brand — its design is timeless, with an understated yet dynamic overall surface complexity,” said the brand’s head of design, Luc Donckerwolke. “These are all characteristics that embody Genesis products and delicately reflect distinctive elements, which you’ll continue to see in future models from our brand.”

I sincerely hope not, as the most distinctive elements are also the most offensive. If Genesis can point to elements of the GV80’s design and still sincerely consider them timeless, then there is something fundamentally wrong with its design team. Nothing about the bizarre criss-cross pillar graphics, 23-inch mesh alloy wheels, chain-link chrome grille, and twin-slit headlamps inspire a sense of perennial grace when combined on vehicle. If anything, the GV80 Concept’s styling looks like the end result of automotive Mad Libs than a singular vision.

It does, however, have a pleasant silhouette and Genesis claims the mesh wheels are a necessary measure to save unsprung weight — meaning they’ll never ever make it to a production model. It’s also hard to imagine those headlights passing regulations or the folded bodywork being cost effective.

The whole vehicle exists under a “Athletic Elegance” design thesis that attempts to merge on and off-road performance with high-end luxury, but the execution just feels so wrong — like an energy drink for old people when coffee should suffice. The GV80 is far too ‘xtreme to posit a sense of class and does not feel like a serious attempt to develop something that might make it into production. Even the official press materials provided were half-baked.

Mechanical details were nonexistent, the exterior rendering lacks any realism or polish, and the interior image shows the car parked facing the East River with the speedometer reading 103 miles per hour. That’s not a minor mistake. That’s either a complete lack of effort or a vindictive graphic designer who is trying to tell us something about the brand’s future.

[Images: Genesis Motors]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Kyree Kyree on Apr 12, 2017

    Genesis really needs to do a good job of differentiating its cars from those of Hyundai. As it stands, I could easily see the production version of this looking like a slightly sleeker version of the Hyundai Tucson (currently Hyundai's smallest and cheapest crossover). That's not good.

  • Bd2 Bd2 on Apr 16, 2017

    Only good thing is the interior; the rest of the design is just "bleh."

  • Zipper69 Current radio ads blare "your local Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram dealer" and the facias read the same. Is the honeymoon with FIAT over now the 500 and big 500 have stopped selling?
  • Kjhkjlhkjhkljh kljhjkhjklhkjh hmmm get rid of the garbage engine in my chevy, and the garbage under class action lawsuit transmission? sounds good to me
  • ToolGuy Personally I have no idea what anyone in this video is talking about, perhaps someone can explain it to me.
  • ToolGuy Friendly reminder of two indisputable facts: A) Winners buy new vehicles (only losers buy used), and B) New vehicle buyers are geniuses (their vehicle choices prove it):
  • Groza George Stellantis live off the back of cheap V8 cars with old technology and suffers from lack of new product development. Now that regulations killed this market, they have to ditch the outdated overhead.They are not ready to face the tsunami of cheap Chinese EVs or ready to even go hybrid and will be left in the dust. I expect most of their US offerings to be made in Mexico in the future for good tariff protection and lower costs of labor instead of overpriced and inflexible union labor.