Genesis North America CEO Mark Del Rosso says company launch plans are firm

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“It’s a big country, and every dealer is going through a different set of situations within their communities, based on government, based on being able to open up,” Del Rosso said. “We’re being very careful with regions, with dealers, to position them for the future and to make it out of this crisis with even greater momentum.”

Plans for Genesis to go from three sedans to a six-vehicle lineup are full speed ahead, Del Rosso says. Inventory of the new GV80 and next-gen G80 — already on sale in South Korea — will be ready in the U.S. by summertime. And next year will bring a second crossover and an electric vehicle.

To be sure, no one knows how the COVID-19 illness is going to mark the nation — and the world — over the next eight months. But Genesis did double sales last year to 21,233. And that low sales base, plus a new midsize crossover, makes the upstart brand a decent bet for growth even under the current circumstances.

Del Rosso spoke with Staff Reporter Laurence Iliff by phone last month. Here are edited excerpts.

Q: What is Genesis USA doing to address the coronavirus crisis? As the focus starts to shift to reopening, how well is the company positioned?

A: From a leadership perspective, all of us and our dealers are embracing change. They’re adapting, they’re evolving, and our dealers and communities in America are the lifeblood of our company. And clearly, they’re excelling. I believe it’s all about customers and trust. Within days of our phase one announcement of the Genesis Cares job-loss program for customers, we also really took that umbrella of Genesis Cares and put it around our dealers.

We had to adjust our incentives based on dealer feedback. Our field team is aggressively sharing best practices — what’s working from dealership to dealership across the United States. Our service valet is a hallmark of Genesis. We had about an 85 percent utilization of service valet (vehicle drop-off and pickup). I’m happy to report that’s actually improved to about 90 percent utilization. We now have sales valet, and we have 115 dealers offering sales valet in addition to service valet.

Are dealers ready for the reopening of the economy? Do you have inventory?

On inventory, we’re actually in really great shape. The idea here is to have one unit less than the natural demand. The great news on the face-lifted 2020 G90 is that after a short time on the market — arriving just after the first of the year — we’re actually a little bit short on inventory vs. the natural demand per month, which is a good thing.

On the sell-down of the current G80, we have a few remaining but we’re in a perfect position as we transition into the all-new 2021 G80 this summer. We have good inventory overall on our G70 luxury sports sedan. As you look in the second half of the year and the summer months, our dealers are super excited from an inventory perspective to receive the 2021 G80 and the all-new 2021 GV80 SUV flagship. I think it’s well-timed and we’re well-positioned for the second half of the year.

How are sales given the circumstances? Are they getting better?

We’re gaining share in the near-luxury (G70) segment, we’re gaining share in the premium-luxury car market where G90 competes. Of course, our share is down slightly in the mid-luxury segment as we sell down on G80, but I think in the second half of the year when the 2021 all-new G80 comes in, we’re actually going to achieve more.

Genesis started the year with a lot of momentum in terms of upcoming new vehicles and a new marketing campaign. How do you regain that momentum under the circumstances?

I think the big piece that has us so optimistic for the future is the timing of GV80 and the all-new 2021 G80. We’ve received over 9,400 reservations for the GV80. And since March 30, with the global reveal of the all-new G80, we’re over 900 reservations already. So, I think we’re perfectly positioned to even make that momentum greater into the second half of the year.

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Saurabh Shukla

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