Genesis changes its mind on retail network -- again
The shape-shifting Genesis brand rollout has taken another turn.
Genesis General Manager Erwin Raphael told Hyundai's dealer council last week that the opportunity to sell the brand would now be offered to all Hyundai dealers in the U.S. -- a complete shift from the brand's previous thinking.
In January, Genesis announced it would launch a separate retail network composed of about 100 stores in 48 markets, concentrated in luxury-friendly urban areas. Elite-level dealers in those markets would be given first dibs on acquiring a Genesis franchise, but the vast majority of Hyundai dealers would lose their right to carry Genesis products and wouldn't be invited to join the new network.
But as of last week, Genesis is no longer confining itself to the 48-market plan. A spokesman said it's possible that the Genesis standalone network could launch with more than 100 stores.
The spokesman also said that 2019 models "will only be wholesaled to newly franchised Genesis retailers."
It's the latest in a series of twists and turns for Hyundai dealers who were eager to play a role in the future of the Genesis brand. Years of indecisive strategy have left them guessing and often frustrated, but the latest about-face has given new hope to some who were critical of the brand's decision to cut hundreds of dealers from its ranks.
A Genesis dealer in southern U.S. who had criticized the previous plan applauded the change. He said it can't hurt to have more dealerships selling Genesis products, especially with the sporty G70 sedan on the way this summer.
"By having more nationwide distribution, you're going to allay consumer fears that they'll be traveling and not be able to get service on their vehicle," the dealer said.
He added later: "If it pans out, it'll be a great thing. It'll help sell more cars, it'll help overall dealer profitably, strengthen their dealer network, and include all those who want to sell the product, and believe in the Genesis product, to sell and service those cars. I think it's a great decision."
Automotive News obtained a brief summary of the new plan from a dealer who asked not to be identified.
Under the plan, this person said, all Hyundai dealerships will be eligible to apply to become Genesis dealers. The roughly 350 elite-level dealerships that carried both the G80 and G90 sedans can continue to sell those products, or take settlement money that was previously offered and move on.
Those who become or remain Genesis dealers will be required to sign new or separate franchise agreements, though laws in some states may complicate this effort; the new agreements should be sent out by the end of this week, or next week.
Genesis confirmed that even under the new plan, all the new dealers will be required to have separate stores and service facilities just for Genesis.
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