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Ad feature: the story behind the American Car Of The Year

Genesis executive vice-president Manfred Fitzgerald on the all-conquering Genesis G70 and what’s next…

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2019 has begun in familiar fashion for Genesis. It may be newest marque in the luxury US car market, but it’s already one of the most garlanded of recent times. The Genesis G70 – the luxury sports sedan added to the Genesis range earlier last year - picked the latest in a series of awards, this time being named as the prestigious American Car of the Year at the Detroit Motor Show by a panel of US critics and journalists.

Launched in 2018, the G70 completed the three-car Genesis line-up in the USA alongside the existing G80 and G90, and put itself squarely against the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and Mercedes C Class. The aim – according to executive vice-president Manfred Fitzgerald – was “to provide a driver-oriented, dynamic and exciting experience to a broad range of customers,” and the reaction so far suggests it has been mission accomplished.

The underlying engineering setup comes from Albert Biermann, previously of BMW’s M Division. That means a choice of 2.0 litre engine good for 252bhp, or a range-topping twin-turbocharged 3.3 litre V6 which will propel you from 0-60 in just 4.5 seconds, all wrapped in cutting-edge design. Genesis Head of Design Luc Donckerwolke – previously behind the likes of the Audi A2 and Lamborghini Gallardo – calls the G70 “a car for connoisseurs of high craftsmanship and high driving dynamics”. With a team like that, it’s been no surprise to see the G70 successfully breaking into a market where so many have failed.

For more from EVP Manfred Fitzgerald on the Genesis G70, the future for the brand, and the stunning Essentia concept that dominated this year’s motor shows, read on for an exclusive interview. And for more information on the Genesis G70 in the USA – and to configure your new model – please head this way

How would you describe Genesis as an automotive brand?

We are Korea’s first automotive luxury brand. We don’t want to follow any other brand’s footsteps but create our own path in an authentic way.

What are the biggest challenges with launching a new luxury automotive marque like Genesis?

Building a brand from scratch is definitely not an easy task, and that is what makes it such an exciting challenge for Genesis. It starts from defining who we are as a brand and creating a culture that drives us forward to achieve our goals.

Genesis is unashamedly a Korean company – what unique qualities do you believe that Korean mindset brings to car creation?

There are many unique qualities of the Korean culture that drive this brand forward. The attention to detail, work ethic, respect, harmony, a humble yet confident (quietly iconic) attitude, and an extremely competitive and determined mind set.

I think if you look back at the history of our mother company and how the founders have achieved so much in such a short period of time, there are definitely a lot of these traits built in the DNA of the corporate identity. This drive is also why we have decided to take the next step to enter the fiercely competitive luxury automotive market through the Genesis brand.

Genesis has been made a big impact in the US market and won many high-profile accolades – what have been the particular challenges of breaking into America?

The main challenge is to continue to build brand awareness, which is still not up to where we would like it to be. To achieve this, we are using multiple channels including lifestyle, automotive, sports and culture.

The Essentia concept has made a huge impact and garnered a lot of positive praise this year – can you tell us how that project came about?

It was definitely an exciting project for us in terms of expressing emotion through a two-door GT. We wanted to turn the clock back while projecting the future and bringing life back into the essentials of driving. It was especially great to see little kids getting in the driver’s seat thinking “this is my dream car.” I think it was definitely a turning point for Genesis and we are still pushing for it to make production.

It’s clearly a substantially different proposition to anything in the current range, is it just a piece of Internet clickbait, or is there a desire within the company to deliver it and how realistic is that desire?

It is definitely still a goal, and I think we’re close to making it a reality.

You worked extensively on every aspect of the G70 (pictured above) yourself, can you describe the main elements of focus and what you were hoping to deliver in terms of driving experience?

The main focus of the G70 was to create the youngest model of our sedan line-up. To provide a driver-oriented, dynamic and exciting experience to a broad range of customers.

A number of your competitors have had huge success with performance derivatives of the G70 rivals, is there scope for a more performance focussed derivative in the range?

For now, we do not have any plans to for a high performance brand or derivatives of the G70.

Under your leadership Genesis has been able to hire a number of the most influential names in the business from the hiring of Luc Donckerwolke and SangYup Lee in design to Albert Biermann’s appointment as head of engineering, can you talk about how you attracted such high-profile individuals to the brand and the benefits their perspective and talent delivers?  

I cannot say how I attracted them since I came on board after Luc and Albert, and only a few months ahead of SangYup. What I can say is that the chemistry between all of us is outstanding. We are constantly communicating with each other sharing ideas and the synergy is definitely there. I am very happy to be working with such a great group of talent.

The automotive industry is going to see unprecedented levels of change in the next 5 years as EV and hybrid ownership grows and pure ICE vehicles decline, how are Genesis tackling this challenging future?

Alternative propulsion is at the core of our product development strategy. We will introduce our first EV by 2021, and will continue to roll out electric vehicles in an aggressive manner. Our ultimate goal is to offer alternative propulsion in all segments of our product portfolio.

When will we see the first Genesis EV?

2021.

A number of high profile celebrities have been part of the Genesis brand story recently, can you tell us of any future plans and the benefit these associations bring?

It’s not just about associating the brand with high celebrity status, but rather individuals who can associate with the brand. These ambassadors and platforms are important for us in terms of communicating the brand and building relationships with various communities in music and sports.

For more on the all-conquering Genesis G70 and the rest of the Genesis range, please head this way”

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