- Genesis has opened its first stand-alone dealership, and it’s in Lafayette, Lousiana.
- Up to five more will be completed this year, with an eventual aim of just over 100 nationwide.
- Genesis will announce two more electrified vehicles later this year joining the six-vehicle range on sale now.
The next stage in the future of Genesis begins at 6600 Johnston Street in Lafayette, Louisiana. That’s where the luxury automaker already known for exceeding expectations defied them, opening its first stand-alone dealership in the heart of French Louisiana. At Genesis of Lafayette, South Korean principles and luxuriance meet Cajun, zydeco, and pork skin fried pickles.
Ted Mengiste, the executive director of sales operations at Genesis Motor America, called the 12,000-square-foot, $3.6 million dealership “a physical representation of the brand.” The architectural style doesn’t have a name but embodies two principles: “the luxury of white space” and the Korean principle of son-nim, translated to us as “invited guest.”
Said luxury of white space minimizes distractions throughout. Exterior glass walls showcase just three cars in the lobby among two design elements that signify Genesis stores. The “brand cube” hangs inside the entrance, four suspended sheets of perforated drapery forming a seating area. Above the cube’s space, a light panel shifts through various muted colors. A projector outside the cube flashes video onto the exterior of the drapery.
Opposite the brand cube, the “brand wall” forms a copper-colored backdrop for a hero car placed near the front doors. From outside, the interior looks like an art installation.
A brief row of open offices separate the lobby from the atrium and lounge in back. The Genesis Experience room sits to the right of the offices, an embellished chamber where some buyers will collect their vehicles with a side of theater.
The service portico sits to the left of a row of offices separating the lobby and service lounge, perhaps the best exemplar of “invited guest.” The service manager’s desk is five steps away from the threshold, behind no wall, no door, no barrier to the customers who need assistance.
The lounge, decorated like the residence of the most elegant person you have ever known, looks out onto the store’s three service bays. Tiled in light colors like a clean room used for vastly more expensive machinery, the technicians—like the manager—won’t be able to hide, nor will they be allowed to make a mess.
Those are the stats, but the question remains: why Lafayette? The store is part of the Sterling Auto Gr, which counts 12 brands in its stable and is owned by Art LeBlanc Jr. He’s been a Hyundai dealer since 2007 and began asking Genesis for a stand-alone store long before the brand was ready to agree. When it came time to choose a location, Mengiste told us, “Art embodies the Genesis dealer we would love to replicate across the country. He believed in the vision of Genesis, he believed in the brand promise, and he committed to it, not only from a facility standpoint, but in the experiences that we want our customers to have when they come to our brand.”
When we spoke to LeBlanc, we found him a fine representative, as sharp, kind, and charming as he was impeccably dressed. The Hyundai brand has been addressing customer satisfaction challenges among its nationwide dealer network for a while, but LeBlanc’s Sterling Hyundai is rated 4.5 stars on Facebook and 4.7 on Google. He wasn’t merely putting on a show for us.
Mengiste says another four or five storefronts will be completed this year, the final number coming in “somewhere around 100 or north of 100 dealerships across the country.”
Simultaneously, Genesis is pruning the number of Hyundai dealers also selling Genesis. From a high of 325 Hyundai shops, there are just under 300 doing so now. The practice won’t stop completely, but Genesis’s intention is “mainly stand-alone.”
The automaker’s range counts six models currently, Mengiste alerting us “there are two more products that we’ll announce yet this year from an EV standpoint” as the brand transitions to only launching EVs by 2025 and being an EV-only brand by 2030.
The extra branding and community exposure these dealers provides will address what is perhaps Genesis’s biggest quandary, less than ideal public awareness. “Genesis is still one of the best kept secrets out there,” Mengiste said.
Expect to see Genesis throwing a lot of money at the matter, same as its stand-alone dealers. “We [need] a lot of marketing to get the awareness and visibility that we’d like, so that people will come and investigate the brand.”
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