The final OEM to have its future model plans examined by in 2016 is HMG. Hyundai Motor was the first division to be explored in this three-feature series, and now comes Genesis. An examination of what’s ahead for Kia Motors will follow.

Hyundai Motor Group’s premium brand is proving to be a success in the US, which was also the country where the original Hyundai Genesis sedan found most favour. Sales of the Hyundai Genesis and Genesis range reached a combined 28,000 units for the eleven months to the end of November.

Going global. Slowly.

HMG has so far restricted Genesis the brand to South Korea, North America, China and the Middle East. Europe, Australia, New Zealand and other markets should follow from 2017 as the model range is expanded.

The Hyundai Genesis sedan and Hyundai Genesis coupe have been available for some years in many countries but this might cause problems in the initial years of the standalone brand’s introduction. PSA’s experience should act as a warning: sales of DS models have crashed throughout 2016 as that would-be premium division fails to find acceptance, some of which is due to the error of putting new badges on what had been Citroën DS cars.

Perhaps the most striking thing about Genesis’ strong first few months in the US has been that this happened without even one SUV being part of the line-up. More on that below.

There will be six vehicles in the range by 2020, Hyundai stated in November 2015. They are expected to be:

  • G70 (BMW 3 Series sedan rival)
  • G80 (renamed Genesis sedan, BMW 5 Series rival)
  • G90 (replacement for the Hyundai Equus)
  • Coupe (replacement for the Hyundai Genesis Coupe/Genesis Coupe)
  • Crossover number one (BMW X5 rival)
  • Crossover number two (BMW X3 rival)

Other than its size and name, few other details of the vehicle being developed with the RK project code have been confirmed. The G70 might well be a rear- and all-wheel drive sedan, intended to be a rival for the BMW 3 Series sedan. On the other hand, it could be FWD/AWD and related to the new Hyundai Grandeur/Azera. The US and South Korea will be the main markets. Production is due to commence at Ulsan in the fourth quarter of 2017.

Above the G70 sits the Hyundai Genesis sedan, or as already noted, the Genesis G80 in countries where the premium brand exists. The car’s development code was DH.

The second generation of this Lexus GS rival was launched as the Genesis sedan in South Korea during December 2013, and then had its North American debut at January 2014’s Detroit auto show. Both 3.3- and 3.8-litre V6 petrol engines are available in the home market, each mated to a standard eight-speed automatic transmission.

In North America, until the end of the region’s 2016 model year, the car was sold as the Hyundai Genesis sedan, and the same applies in China. The previous generation model was badged as the Hyundai Rohens sedan in the People’s Republic. 

Hyundai Motor Europe (HME) began offering the big four-door car in June 2014, with a limited number of vehicles available in Spain, France, the UK and other markets. The lack of a diesel engine has held back sales of the Hyundai Genesis in Europe, though high pricing is another reason.

The second generation sedan was the first model for Hyundai’s AWD sub-brand, HTRAC. It was revealed by HME in December 2013 that there would not be any Genesis sedans with HTRAC for the UK as the car has not been engineered for the combination of all-wheel drive and right-hand drive. HTRAC is supplied by Magna Powertrain, the AWD system being produced at the Canadian Tier 1’s Lannach and Ilz facilities in Austria.

Following its appearance at the Busan motor show in June 2016, the Hyundai Genesis sedan became Genesis G80, with the car rebadged and slightly restyled. In North America, the update took place recently, for the 2017 model year. The G80 went on sale in South Korea in July 2016. 

An additional variant for North America’s 2018 model year G80 range had its regional debut at the LA auto show in November 2016. This was the Sport, which is powered by a turbocharged 3.3-litre V6 and has modified suspension settings.

A G80 diesel will be launched in South Korea in 2017, Hyundai told the local media in June 2016. It will also begin selling a diesel version of the larger EQ900. The compression-ignition engine will probably coincide with the arrival of a facelift for the Hyundai Genesis and Genesis G80. When the third generation car arrives in the final quarter of 2019, it will probably be sold only as a Genesis, the brand having by then been rolled out worldwide.

The replacement for the Hyundai Genesis Coupé is due to go into production at Ulsan during the fourth quarter of 2017 after a motor show appearance earlier in the year. Some of its styling elements are expected to have been previewed by the Hyundai HND-9 concept, which premiered at the Seoul motor show in March 2013. 

A second show car, the HCD-16 Vision G Concept Coupe, had its debut at an event in Los Angeles in August 2015. It was then revealed to the public at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance later that month.

As well as right-hand drive for the first time in the history of the Genesis Coupe model series, there might also be a convertible. Hyundai is understood to be planning to offer the car with various engines, including a turbocharged 3.3-litre V6. There should also be a diesel for European markets.

Project WI, which like the G80 also uses HMG’s rear-wheel drive/all-wheel drive DH architecture, was the replacement for the Hyundai Equus. This big sedan was revealed to the media in South Korea as the Genesis EQ900 but in export markets it is the Genesis G90. It had its debut with G90 badging at the Detroit auto show in January 2016. 

In North America, the G90 is new for the region’s 2017 model year. The first cars for US customers were delivered in October. HMA sees it in the same way that Toyota Motor Sales USA originally viewed the first Lexus LS 400: a cheaper rival for the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and BMW 7 Series, as well as, naturally, the Lexus LS.

Depending on the market, the car is available with up to three petrol engines and an eight-speed torque converter automatic transmission: 

  • 370PS 3,342cc turbo V6
  • 315PS 3,778cc V6
  • 425PS 5,038cc V8

The G90 is 5,205mm long, 1,915mm wide and 1,495mm high. Also, Hyundai’s own weight figures are a hefty 2,420-2,595kg. The company quotes the boot capacity as being 484 litres.

An EQ900 diesel will be launched in South Korea in 2017, Hyundai told the local media in June 2016. 

As was the case with the Equus, there is a long-wheelbase EQ900. This was revealed to the media in Seoul in March 2016. The EQ900 Limousine is 290mm longer than the EQ900. Facelifts for both standard and LWB cars should appear in early 2019 with replacements due in the fourth quarter of 2022. The second generation G90/EQ900 will probably debut a new and lighter RWD/AWD architecture. The production plant should again be Ulsan.

With the ongoing boom in crossover and SUVs, it is now believed that HMG might well rejig the introduction dates for various Genesis models. Previously, the smaller of the two crossovers or SUVs wasn’t due to be added to the line-up until early 2020. Some sources now believe that what will be a rival for the Lexus NX will instead become available as soon as 2018. It may also be the first Genesis vehicle to feature a PHEV powertrain. Four-cylinder diesel and petrol engines will also be part of the line-up.

The sixth model to be added to Genesis’ global range should be a large SUV in the style of the Infiniti QX70 or BMW X5. This vehicle would also be the effective replacement for the Veracruz (also sold as the ix55 in some markets), a big 4×4 which went out of production in mid-2015. 

A variant of the Santa Fe is currently marketed as the Hyundai MaxCruz in South Korea but HMC is said to be planning a rear- and all-wheel drive SUV to either take the place of that vehicle or be the next step up, in the way that the VW Touareg relates to the Audi Q7.


Genesis is off to a good start but there is a major danger ahead for the division, and HMG knows it. The big risk is building the cars in South Korea. As the strikes which took out production at HMC plants in September and October this year proved, the company is highly vulnerable to industrial action. It is now believed that over 100,000 vehicles were lost in total, with multiple plants now running hard to play catch up. 

The shock of the first full strike to hit HMG in twelve years will likely have galvanised the company into thinking of building certain future Genesis models outside its home market. The US or Mexico would be the most obvious places to do this. An expansion of the Montgomery, Alabama Hyundai plant or a new factory close to the Kia one in Pesqueria would be the most likely options. It might seem too early to be suggesting either scenario but within five years, Genesis could well be selling in excess of 150,000 vehicles a year worldwide, if not more, and a strong financial performer for HMG.

*the majority of these were for the Hyundai Genesis, the former name for the Genesis G80, which was changed at the end of the 2016 model year

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