Editor's note: This article has been corrected to clarify Genesis' marketing centering around the 2019 Super Bowl.
SEOUL — South Korean premium contender Genesis has sleek design, cutting-edge technology and accolades galore from auto buffs. What it lacks is a full lineup, brand recognition and, crucially, customers. But new global brand boss William Lee says that is about to change in a big way.
The hard-charging Lee is rapidly rolling out a "3+2+1" strategy that will build a lineup of three sedans, two crossovers and one electric vehicle by the end of next year and, it is hoped, trigger a torrent of sales.
Lee, a veteran of several overseas posts who just returned to Hyundai Motor Group's headquarters in Seoul after a stint with the carmaker in the U.S., isn't mincing words about what he has in store.
"We call it a 'quantum jump,' " Lee, 60, told Automotive News here last month in his first interview since taking the helm of the Genesis division Nov. 1. "There is no reason we cannot grow significantly. In two years, we will have a very strong six-vehicle portfolio."
Lee's game plan envisions a 30 percent surge in U.S. sales in 2020 and an even bigger increase in 2021. This year, he says, global sales will exceed 100,000 for the first time. They are forecast to climb to 116,000 from a target of less than 90,000 in 2019.
The North American market accounts for about 30 percent of sales, while the home market of South Korea contributes the remaining 70 percent.
But as Genesis plans to roll out into new markets such as China and Europe, the U.S. is key to its global success, Lee said. Why? If Genesis can make it there, it can make it anywhere.
"Those sales will have a halo effect on other markets. Success in the U.S. market is critically important for us," he said. "My No. 1 goal is Genesis business acceleration."
In outlining Genesis' growth strategy, Lee also said the brand will focus on building awareness, starting with an experience center in New York's trendy Meatpacking District. The facility, slated to open this spring, will have a showroom. But the focus will be as much on its Korean cuisine restaurant, library and event space for cultural events and exhibits as its vehicles.
"We are going to show the heart and soul of the Genesis brand," Lee said.