Will the Genesis brand finally make its European debut? "That could happen in a couple of years' time," Hyundai Chief Marketing Officer Cho Won Hong told Automotive News Europe during a recent interview in Milan.
Cho is well aware of the risks. "I know the European market is very difficult for new entrants such as Genesis," he said. That is why he said Hyundai would try to "build greater awareness of the Genesis brand even before selling cars." For example, Hyundai will build a Genesis experience center in a major European city "where people can get to understand what the brand is about," Cho said.
Despite the positive spin, there are doubts that Genesis' European debut is close. "If they don't give specific plans, I wouldn't be so sure the launch will actually happen," JATO Dynamics analyst Felipe Munoz said. "Two years is a long time and many things can change."
There are two huge hurdles for Hyundai's premium brand. First, Genesis has a sedan-heavy portfolio and no crossovers, which would be disastrous in Europe, where SUVs are hot-sellers and large sedans struggle to find buyers. Three years ago Hyundai Europe Chief Operating Officer Thomas Schmid said Genesis's European launch would be postponed because the brand lacked SUVs and suitable engines, specifically diesels. These issues are being addressed.
Hyundai Executive Vice Chairman Euisun Chung said in January that a Genesis crossover would be unveiled this year.
Cho told ANE that the brand would add "two to three new models" in the coming years.