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With its start in 2017, it’s hard to believe that Genesis is already one of the best luxury brands on the market. Such rapid success isn’t just unexpected, it’s unprecedented. And with such a fast start, it’s easy to wonder just how they did it. A lot has happened to help make Genesis the luxury powerhouse it is today, and it started over a decade before the brand’s first model hit the market.

A silver-gray Genesis G90, from one of the best luxury car brands of 2023
Genesis G90 | Hyundai Motor Company

Where did the Genesis car brand come from?

As you may know, Genesis didn’t just spring up out of thin air. It is the luxury arm of the Hyundai Corporation, which also owns Kia. In fact, the first Genesis cars were actually released under the Hyundai banner.

In 2003, a Hyundai luxury car concept showed the first Hyundai Genesis in the flesh. It was four years before that car begin production, hitting U.S. shores in 2007. That was the same year that Hyundai showed off a rear-wheel drive sport coupe called….the Hyundai Genesis.

Confused? You should be. Two completely different concepts with the same name on sale at the same time isn’t exactly a conventional brand structure.

Hyundai Genesis Coupe
Hyundai Genesis Coupe | Getty Images

That’s because Genesis was supposed to be it’s own brand all the way back in 2007. However, the global financial crisis of 2007 and 2008 spooked Hyundai into delaying the brand’s debut.

The only problem was, the company had already done significant development on the two Genesis concept cars. Rather than simply flushing that cash and calling it a day, Hyundai released the cars under its existing brand banner. It would carry on that way for nearly a decade.

Blue Genesis G90 luxury sedan shot with F4 Phantom jet airplane
Genesis G90 | Braden Carlson, MotorBiscuit

When did Genesis become its own brand?

While the first standalone Genesis model didn’t see U.S. showrooms until 2017, plans to bring Genesis out from under the Hyundai umbrella began in 2015. Hiring prominent executives and engineers from other successful companies helped the brand get off to a hot start.

That’s not to say that Genesis was an immediate success. The rather anonymous G80 and G90 were good, not great. But they proved that the Koreans could build a respectable luxury car on par with their German rivals.

How is Genesis making the best luxury cars already?

Just six years in and Genesis is making some of the best luxury cars on the market. So how did a company born less than a decade ago take on and topple some of the most tenured luxury brands on the market? By putting the right people in the right places.

For decades, BMW made some of the best-handling luxury cars of all time. The E46 and E92 M3 both carry legendary reputations as both sports cars and luxury cars. The BMW M5 carved out its own niche as a super sedan with premium luxury and handling. And as a new luxury brand trying to become the best, Genesis poached Albert Bierman from BMW’s M Performance division in 2015.

A Genesis Electrified G80 shows off its blue green paintwork.
Genesis Electrified G80 | Genesis

Next up, create captivating designs. The original G80 and G90 were bland-styled, anonymous luxury cars. The Grand Theft Auto generic look was fine for a debut, but to truly stand out, Genesis needed to make an impact. And when it comes to visual impact in luxury cars, what stands out more than Bentley? Enter Luc Donckerwolke, who was responsible for cars like the Bentley Continental and the original Bentayga. And now, the Genesis lineup of luxury cars and SUVs.

Finally, it needed to captivate luxury buyers with a strategic marketing and sales plan. And who better to create a striking strategy than the man that put Lamborghinis on bedroom wall posters for a decade? Manfred Fitzgerald was the first Genesis CEO and took the experience of selling legendary supercars and applied it to creating a luxury brand with a standout identity.

The cars have to be good, and they are

Of course, for all of these parts and pieces to actually mean anything, the cars have to be good. If the first Genesis models were truly awful, the brand’s reputation would fall flat before it even got off the ground.
Fortunately, the Hyundai brand had already hit its stride by the time 2015 rolled around. So when the outside experts from BMW, Bentley, and Lamborghini came on board, they weren’t tasked with building a car company from the ground up. They simply had to take Hyundai’s good products and perfect them for a high-end market.

In just a few short years, they’ve done exactly that, catapulting Genesis from an in-house Hyundai concept to a competitive and compelling luxury car brand in less than a decade.

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