Hyundai unveils its first SUV in overseas premium push

On Wednesday, Hyundai Motor Co unveiled its first sport-utility vehicle (SUV) under its Genesis brand in a move aimed at increasing its footprint in overseas markets, said analysts.

Genesis, spun off in 2015, is an initiative of Hyundai Motor Group heir-apparent Euisun Chung, is aimed at revamping Hyundai’s image as an automaker which makes cost effective cars.

Hyundai’s sedan-only lineup, has had limited reach in its biggest overseas market – the United States – where consumer preference has shifted to SUVs. In the U.S. Hyundai has been embroiled in disputes with dealerships.

In the first quarter of 2020, the automaker plans on launching the GV80 SUV in North America. It expects the GV80 to be part of a strengthened lineup which will also lead the brand’s expansion in Europe and China which it has yet to make inroads, said William Lee, Global Head of Genesis, at a news conference.

Currently Genesis’ lineup is made up of only three sedans, which according to analysts, limits its appeal, especially since there is a consumer shift towards SUVs in recent years.

“Genesis owners are some of the oldest in the U.S. market. With a median age of 62, only Cadillac and Lincoln owners are older,” said Ed Kim, vice president at California-based consultancy AutoPacific. “It (the GV80) will … have the role of bringing younger buyers to the brand”.

The Genesis brand has made some progress in rebuilding its U.S. retail network last year following a flip-flopping strategy for separate dealerships which led to legal disputes with Hyundai dealers.

Around 350 Hyundai dealers in the United States have Genesis showrooms, with about a dozen in the “early stages” of developing plans for separate Genesis retail facilities, said Genesis spokesman Kevin Smith.

In the January to November 2019 period, more than 70% of Genesis vehicles were sold in South Korea with the rest sold in the United States.

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