Genesis tripled sales last year to 49,621 on the strength of its new GV70 and GV80 crossovers. The Korean upstart was named the best premium nameplate in the J.D. Power dependability study. And after years of struggling with U.S. distribution out of Hyundai dealerships, it's heading down an independent path.
"Genesis' time is here, and it seems to be getting all of the needed support that the Genesis dealers could really hope for," said Peter Lanzavecchia, 66, chairman of the Genesis National Dealer Advisory Council and owner of Genesis of Cherry Hill in Marlton, N.J.
Parent company Hyundai Motor Group prioritized the young brand during its growth spurt over the past 16 months, when Genesis finally had the vehicles and marketing to reach the next level. Last year's sales were just 8,932 shy of Infiniti, which is three decades old compared with just 6 years old for Genesis.
While Lanzavecchia doesn't expect the same level of growth this year, he does expect upwards of 20 percent as Hyundai Motor Group continues to give its premium brand priority for semiconductor chips. Genesis will also launch its first two electric vehicles this year, the GV60 and Electrified G80.
Lanzavecchia spoke with Staff Reporter Laurence Iliff. Here are edited excerpts.
Q: Genesis is growing fast, with hot new vehicles that many U.S. consumers are just learning about. Are you concerned that the aggressive pivot to EVs will confuse buyers just getting to know Genesis' internal-combustion vehicles?
A: No, not at all. Actually, we have seen a tremendous increase in the brand's recognition and awareness. And that leads to higher levels of consideration. In 2021, I think that was partly due to [COO] Claudia Marquez's update to our Tier 1 advertising strategy and funding. That really seemed to come on strong in the fourth quarter. Every brand, certainly every premium brand, has announced the transition to EV, so we are looking forward to Genesis continuing its leadership in design and tech and safety with our EV entries as we transition away from ICE models. We're not concerned. We're thrilled with the level of acceptance and desire for our models, and we think we'll see the same or even greater demand for our EV models once they're launched.
Genesis will soon have its first EVs with the GV60 and the Electrified G80, which are potential competitors for the Tesla Model Y and Model S. How do you see that competition?
New Jersey, I think, has four Tesla retail locations and one of them is in Cherry Hill. They do very well. We see shoppers from time to time looking at Genesis while also shopping Tesla. We've had more than a handful of trade-ins from Teslas. There's a little bit of concern in the Tesla owner community with the service. Where to go for service if they don't live near a Tesla location. We welcome the competition. Tesla is a great car, great brand. They've done a great job paving the way, really by creating the charging infrastructure.