TOKYO — As thorny as Genesis' retail rework has been, the U.S. dealer showdown is just one of many trials testing global brand chief Manfred Fitzgerald as he births the Korean luxury brand.
There is also a push to start sales in other regions, such as China. There is the move to establish the marque's own design language and product planning division. And there is the campaign to pitch vehicle quality as a notch above that of the mass-market Hyundai brand that spawned it.
And finally, there remains the biggest challenge of all: simply getting people to know the brand exists.
Seen in that broad picture, where the U.S. accounts for only a quarter of Genesis' global sales, the startup premium brand has made big strides since going solo in 2015, Fitzgerald said in an interview here.
"I can't recall any other example of creating a brand at such a fast pace," he told Automotive News. "It took other companies decades to do that."
But the birth of Genesis is in some ways as chaotic as it is rapid. The mixed signals on hammering out an independent U.S. retail channel underscored the pitfalls of speed. In January, Genesis announced it would launch a separate network of about 100 stores in 48 cities. By May, it had changed course, saying it would offer franchise agreements to all Hyundai dealers.