TAMWORTH, N.H. — Uncertainty has been a common theme around the dapper Genesis G70's U.S. launch — not because of the product itself, but rather the retail infrastructure surrounding it.
The sedan's debut was pushed back several times, and as recently as this spring, the brand's top global exec was saying it was unclear who would sell it when its summer 2018 release date arrived.
But the blurriness appears to be giving way to some clarity as the brand prepares to finally launch its first model that isn't a carryover from the Hyundai brand into a retail network where it will share some space with Hyundai products for now.
For Genesis, it's a compromise that will help keep the peace while it makes critical additions to its lineup. After irking dealers last year by announcing it would expedite plans for an exclusive stand-alone retail network, Genesis backed off under the heat of licensing issues that threatened to stall its separation plans. The opportunity to sell the brand was offered to all Hyundai dealers in the U.S. this spring as long as they agreed to open stand-alone Genesis facilities by January 2021.
So now it's go time for the dealers who had faith that a Korean luxury brand could hold its own against storied German metal and other competitors such as Lexus. The brand wouldn't say how many dealers will sell the initial batch of G70s, but General Manager Erwin Raphael said he expects announcements to begin in the next few weeks. He hopes to have all of the Genesis franchises identified by the first quarter of next year. About half of Hyundai dealers accepted a compensation package that releases them from the Genesis network and reimburses them for investments in Genesis inventory, training and tools.
Some Hyundai dealers want to move forward with Genesis even though they didn't sell any units in their markets in 2017.
"It's challenging for us to understand the logic there, but that's not our role," Raphael told Automotive News during a media event here. "Our role is to support the decisions that were made and move forward and, in time, we and the dealers will know if the individual decisions were the right decisions or wrong decisions."