Genesis changes its mind on retail plans

In a reversal, it’ll let all Hyundai dealers apply for franchise licenses

Genesis will apparently open the doors to its nascent dealership network to all existing Hyundai dealers, reversing its earlier plan to launch a separate, much more limited retail network as a way to distinguish the brand.

The brand's general manager, Erwin Raphael, told Hyundai's dealer council last week that Genesis would allow all Hyundai dealers the opportunity to sell the luxury brand in the U.S. That amounts to a 180 on plans announced in January, when the two-year-old spinoff said it planned to build out a network of about 100 Genesis retailers in around 48 mostly urban luxury markets, with first dibs on the franchises going to high-performing Hyundai dealers. The plan was to have separate branding, with the long-term goal of having them all operating out of standalone facilities after launching in temporary or shared showrooms.

Per Automotive News, Genesis will no longer confine its sales to those 48 markets. All Hyundai dealerships will be able to apply to be licensed as Genesis dealers, though 2019 models will only be shipped to the newly franchised Genesis retailers. About 350 "elite" Hyundai dealerships that already sell the G80 and G90 sedans can continue to sell them, or take previously offered settlement money and move on. Those who become or remain Genesis dealers will have to sign new or separate franchise agreements that were expected to go out this week or next. Genesis will still require separate, standalone stores and service facilities.

The news will likely please Hyundai dealers who have been frustrated or confused by Genesis's rollout strategy and are eager to play a role in the brand's growth. It also could provide a sales lift for Genesis, whose sales during the first four months of 2018 fell 17.5 percent to 5,390. They'll also be hoping for a boost when the compact G70 sedan launches this summer.

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