By on March 30, 2022

Genesis is an interesting brand. Decades after Japanese automakers launched premium nameplates of their own, South Korea’s Hyundai decided to spin off one of its sedans into an entire luxury sub-brand in 2015. The resulting vehicles have been solid performers, representing excellent value for individuals in the market for something fancier. Genesis is building real luxury cars and working to differentiate those models from Hyundai Motor Groups’ mainstream products.

But it’s had to overcome plenty of obstacles. While Genesis’ product might be dunking on some of the other Asian luxury brands, achieving the same notoriety has been difficult for the fresh nameplate. The company also isn’t targeting Acura, Infiniti, and Lexus. Its sights are set on the Germans, with many vehicles already comparing favorably. But if Genesis is to become a serious rival, it needs to distance itself from the Hyundai and Kia models it traditionally shares a lot with — resulting in its very first standalone retail store in the United States.

The new dealership, located in Lafayette, Louisiana, represents an important phase in the brand’s evolution. Genesis has already distanced itself from the mass-market brand it spawned from with its product and can now do so physically with higher-end showrooms it has all to itself.

From Genesis:

At Genesis of Lafayette, customers are able to take full advantage of an automotive purchase and ownership journey tailored to them. Genesis of Lafayette puts customers’ time and convenience at the center of the experience. Customers can book an at-home test drive online, and even take delivery of their new vehicle at their residence or place of business.

Genesis of Lafayette features distinct brand elements, a transparent, open floorplan, an indoor vehicle delivery area, and infrastructure to support the upcoming portfolio of Electrfied Genesis models. Clients are welcomed into an all-new showroom of award-winning Genesis vehicles. To match the finely-crafted products, unique design elements are on full display, such as a private brand cube where customers may review material samples, vehicle specifications, and more in a stress-free environment.

“We are glad to partner with Arthur LeBlanc and Sterling Automotive Group on our first standalone retail facility in the United States,” said Claudia Marquez, chief operating officer of Genesis Motor North America. “I want to extend my thanks to the entire Sterling Automotive Group for creating a space beautifully designed and so befitting of our remarkable products.”

The store is said to be “the first of many planned retail facilities for the brand in the United States” Genesis won’t need to share. The company shared plans to launch six additional locations as soon as possible — all of which were said to be under construction — with an additional twenty dealerships in the early stages of planning.

It seems to be good news for the South Korean company. However, Genesis’ long-term success is hardly assured. In addition to still being the new kid on the block, it also spent its first few years focused on sedans. While hardly a problem for those with a strong preference for them, the body style has been falling out of favor as manufacturers began pursuing higher-margin SUVs and consumers started focusing on interior volume. Another potential pitfall is the fact that mid-tier luxury vehicles are typically sold to middle-class shoppers, a demographic that’s been shrinking since the 1970s.

But those problems aren’t unique to Genesis. Japanese luxury brands have similarly needed to update their portfolios while creating more distance between their mainstream counterparts. Meanwhile, the Germans appear to have decided that going downmarket was a mistake. There’s a lot of shuffling going on within this quadrant of the industry, providing Genesis with an opportunity it cannot afford to squander.

[Images: Genesis]

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24 Comments on “Genesis Leaves the Nest With First Solo Store...”


  • avatar
    MitchConner

    Very nice store. Lincoln is encouraging the construction of stand alone stores for their products — and their performance has been pretty solid.

    Key to this is hiring and training personnel capable of bringing a luxury brand to life.

    • 0 avatar
      Matt Posky

      I mocked the pilot stores they set up on the West Coast until I saw one in person. Lean staff but extremely professional seeming. Almost didn’t feel like I was at a dealership.

    • 0 avatar
      jalop1991

      oh no, I’ve no doubt this store is staffed by the top 4-square sellers at the owner’s Hyundai store.

      It’s all the same thing, right? Right.

      • 0 avatar
        MitchConner

        Wouldn’t be surprised. Was with my Dad as he went to go talk turkey with a Lincoln dealer in Sunnyvale, CA. Keep in mind this was the only Lincoln dealer in Silicon Valley — a place that gushes cash.

        The Lincoln area was a room in a Ford store located down a hall from the showroom. The sales guy makes a big deal out of it as we walk into it. And voila. Trade show booth carpet. A couple of desks — one with boxes of brochures piled willy nilly on it. A few cafeteria grade chairs scattered around. A fridge stocked with small bottles of sparkling wine and gourmet treats. Just kidding. Walmart Great Value bottled water. As in one of them laying on its side. You’ve got to be kidding me.

        The following negotiations for a high zoot Navigator would’ve made an Arab camel trader blush so we beat feet for the exit never to return. Wound up getting one about 90 minutes away in Fairfield a few days later. That was a great experience pretty much done over the phone.

        Turns out FoMoCo wound up REVOKING the Sunnyvale franchise because it was so bad. Now the closest Lincoln store to Silicon Valley is in Livermore on the fringes of the Bay Area. Purpose built just for the brand it’s a nice building. Can’t speak for anything else as all I did was return a leased car there.

        A brand is what people think of you — and it’s only as good as your weakest link. Staff up with morons and you’ll be headed nowhere fast if you want to really crack the luxury space.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Hmm; I thought this had already happened because of the way the dealers answered the phone when hunting for a GV70 recently.

    I remain quite enamored with the GV70 on paper (dimensions, performance, reviews, price), but they are impossible to find. One of my online inquiries ended up in the hands of the ‘Genesis concierge service’, which proved to be ultra annoying to speak with.

    So I ended up with a Santa Fe instead, which wasn’t much cheaper.

    • 0 avatar

      I thought this happened years ago too.

    • 0 avatar
      SaulTigh

      I love the G80, and had seriously considered the concierge service because my local Genesis dealer very much has a “we sell more Accents’s to subprime buyers than any dealer in the state” vibe that as an adult of some means I’m done with. The might as well have an inflatable tube man out there when you cruise through their lot.

      Can you give more details on your experience with the concierge service?

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        @SaulTigh:

        While searching for GV70s, I think I clicked on the ‘check availability’ button on a dealer website. As you know, many dealers are showing cars that are not on the ground, or are already spoken for. Also, I would be considered an entry-level Genesis shopper, since I’m not going for the $60k+ machines, so I wanted to be sure we were talking about ~$45k products.

        This resulted in a callback a day later (I think from CA: I live in PA), from the concierge service. He drew me into a lengthy discussion about whether I’m registered with the service, and he tried to customize the vehicle I was looking for. He even read me the specs.

        This resulted in him obviously staring at dealer inventory screens for my area (which I said I had already researched), and asking me whether I was familiar with these dealers, when might I want to buy, and what was I going to trade (so he could look it up on KBB, presumably). I already knew my trade was worthless, but we spent more time confirming that.

        The tone of the call was condescending, with a fake attempt at being relational; all I wanted was a little more information than I already had. I wanted a transaction; instead I got a 10-minute runaround more befitting a traditional dealer talking to a clueless buyer.

        YMMV.

        The only other times I’ve shopped in this space was at a Volvo dealer and a Tesla store. Volvo was very condescending as well; I guess my clothing didn’t match my credit score.

        Tesla was a breath of fresh air. Although I didn’t buy, they respected me and my time.

        • 0 avatar
          SaulTigh

          Thanks for the info. I mostly dress like a (clean) hobo when I’m not at work but my money is just as green and I can’t stand condescension. I was intrigued by the “bring it by your house for a test drive” and “deliver the car and paperwork to your house.” I was hoping it was something like the BMW “geniuses” my dealer had when I was leasing a 3-series. Earnest young people who knew everything about the car and totally wanted to help.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    “Meanwhile, the Germans appear to have decided that going downmarket was a mistake.”

    Given how many cheaper products they’re still selling – particularly in the CUV space – I’d argue with that.

    Nevertheless, this is definitely a big step for Genesis.

    • 0 avatar
      Matt Posky

      Ola Källenius in 2020: “Maybe we went at a bit too far to cover each and every space into each and every segment. Compact particularly comes to mind … we should not become a competitor of the volume makers.”

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Mercedes, BMW and Audi all sell compact sedans, and a bunch of compact CUVs, that I’d call “downmarket” for them.

        I think Källenius was talking about subcompacts (ala Audi A1), and yeah, they probably don’t need to be in those markets. But Mercedes definitely has no qualms about covering every darn inch of the CUV market.

      • 0 avatar
        dukeisduke

        That’s what Peter De Lorenzo at The Autoextremist had been talking about for years – M-B chasing every niche.

  • avatar
    bd2

    Not true that this is Genesis’ 1st solo/stand-alone store.

    There have been several stand-alone Genesis stores up and running for about a year now – such as Genesis of Santa Monica, but they are temporary digs (Santa Monica is in the process of building a brand new store down the street from their current location).

    The very first was several years ago in Westlake Village where Genesis took over the spot vacated by Alfa Romeo (the dealership group also has Rolls, Bentley, Lamborghini stores at this location, along with Bugatti, Koenigsegg, Aston Martin and McLaren and other brands at their Beverly Hills location).

    There’s also the Genesis showroom in the Hudson Yards in Manhattan which also does sales which has been up and running for about half a year.

    Seems like this is the 1st traditional, stand-alone Genesis dealership which is an all-new build.

  • avatar
    Oberkanone

    Too much glass for my taste. Very nice inside. Glittery fancy building is nice and all, it’s the interaction with the staff that needs an upgrade.

  • avatar

    Lafayette is an upscale and expensive place in Bay Area. But I do not think that people who live there might be interested in something like Genesis. Many of them own Teslas.

  • avatar
    Crashdaddy430

    Keep those k-cups stocked. Good luck Genesis, your time to fly don’t squander the opportunity.

  • avatar
    pprj

    This is a great step in the right direction.
    However, it is my belief that the main problem is not the facility, but the personel, the people, the service level they provide, the “I got you my dear customer and I will take care of you with high quality and integrity”.
    I sincerely hope that Genesis can bring the right attitude, the white glove treatment that Lexus, for example, is known for.

  • avatar
    pprj

    This is a great step in the right direction.
    However, it is my belief that the main problem is not the facility, but the personel, the people, the service level they provide, the “I got you my dear customer and I will take care of you with high quality and integrity”.
    I sincerely hope that Genesis can bring the right attitude, the white glove treatment that Lexus, for instance, is known for. Make sure you always have a loaner for your customers, for example. Have integrity as your #1 value. Do not lie to your customers, no matter what. Never.
    And treat every customer as you treat a friend that visits you at home. Treat your customers as you like to be treated. And you will be fine.
    If you don’t do all this, it won’t matter how fancy your new facility is or how good the espresso tastes.

  • avatar
    here4aSammich

    It’s really a shame that the only Genesis dealer in my area (he has Hyundai and Kia locked down too) puts the Genesis brand on his billboards with his face on various movie characters. I’m sure Genesis loves him trying to sell a Genesis like it’s a Kia Forte and you’ve got bad credit.

  • avatar
    CKNSLS Sierra SLT

    My wife and I bought a new Santa Fe XL-Limited in 2017. We have FICOs over 800 and could have easily purchased any other vehicle equivalent, such as the Pilot or Highlander but decided on the Santa Fe. After agreeing on an outstanding price we go to sign the papers and my wife (a retired school teacher) notices the math doesn’t add up. We had to take the Hyundai financing to get $3,500.00 in rebates (the good old days!) and the finance guy tried to put $600.00 key insurance and a few hundred dollars for “nitrogen” on the finance contract without telling us. After protest he took off those two items. This same store sells Genesis vehicles. OK…..

    The best thing Hyundai can do is break away the Genesis line and hopefully not end up with the same Dealership owners and car buying experience.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Of all the places one could have opened, I wouldn’t have expected Lafayette, Louisiana. But then buyers in south Louisiana aren’t probably so concerned about keeping up appearances.

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