Genesis plans to enter Chineseauto market by 2019

By PAUL WELITZKIN in New York | | Updated: 2017-04-14 13:09

Genesis plans to enter Chineseauto market by 2019

The Genesis GV80 concept car is displayed at the 2017 New York International Auto Show in New York City, U.S. April 12, 2017. [Photo/Agencies]

Already the world's largest auto market, China is expected to become the world's leading luxury car market by 2020, and Hyundai Motor Co's Genesis wants in on the action.

Genesis, the standalone premium brand of South Korea-based Hyundai,probably will be in the Chinese market by 2019, said global brand chief Manfred Fitzgerald. He said that he isn't sure if Genesis will build vehicles in China or import models.

Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Toyota's Lexus are among the luxury vehicles already in China, but Fitzgerald doesn't think Genesis is too late to the party.

"China has a young customer base of drivers who aren't tied to traditional brands, and entering a new market allows us room to explore alternate ways of working," Fitzgerald wrote in an email.

He said that Genesis will differentiate the brand in China through a unique product and sales experience.

"Genesis' superlative product design, handling and technology have earned accolades from automotive experts, and sales have clearly illustrated the customer demand. Also, the Genesis customer experience with the brand will set it apart – we'll make it easier to shop, select features, and own," Fitzgerald said.

Genesis sold more than 87,000 vehicles globally in 2016, with 66,000 in South Korea. Sales totaled nearly 11,000 in the first two months of 2017.

The Genesis line-up features two models, including the G80 sedan. The company plans to expand to six models by 2020, including two sport utility vehicles (SUVs).

SUVs are becoming very important in the auto market. In the recently concluded first quarter, vehicle makers reported an increasing reliance on truck and SUV sales as car sales continue to slip in the US.

That trend is also occurring in overseas markets according to Mike Manley, head of the Jeep brand for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

"If you look at the first quarter in China you will see mitigation in passenger car sales," Manley said on Wednesday at press preview day at the New York Auto Show, which runs from Friday to April 23. "The SUV group outgrew cars and that's good news for us because we just localized our third vehicle there."

Jeep is producing three models in China – Cherokee, Compass and Renegade - through a joint venture with local manufacturing partner Guangzhou Auto Group Co. Jeep sales advanced 41 percent in the first quarter in the APAC (Asia Pacific, including China) region, said Manley.

Jeep is considered by Wall Street as Fiat Chrysler's most valuable brand, especially as consumers continue to favor SUVs.


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