In a curated conference room with see-through ceiling cutouts to the swimming pool above us and walls brightened by calming blue streams of light, Erwin T. Raphael, the U.S. general manager for Genesis, pitched a select group of lifestyle and automotive writers the brand new Genesis G90 large luxury sedan. For Raphael, it was the third time he’d be giving this exact presentation, but the journalists, holding their craft cocktails or high-end wine while sitting in cushy white leather seating, were waiting to see whether or not the flagship vehicle for this upstart extension of Hyundai Motor Company would legitimately be able to compete with its intended targets, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and the BMW 7-Series.
You could tell why Raphael, a 25-year automotive industry veteran, was chosen as the one to lead Genesis and why he was the man speaking in front of us. He’s a natural charismatic talker. He was calm, firm, and confident, the type that makes you feel like he was explaining something directly to you rather than making a generic speech to a large group.
Amidst the 60-something-slide presentation, his confidence hit its peak when he said, “I’m not worried about the product. We have a great product.” I know what you’re thinking. “Duh, dude. Of course he’s going to say that, he’s literally trying to convince you it’s an amazing car. It’s a simple sales move.” And that’s absolutely true, but it was the way he said it. It was quick, as if he didn’t need to talk about the car at all and wanted to move on to more important issues. It was dismissive, almost as if that weren’t the real focus, despite the fact that we had been flown out to stay in the Rosewood Hotel Georgia in downtown Vancouver specifically for that reason. And that’s because, in reality, the cars, though they’re the foundation, aren’t the focus for the newly separated luxury brand. Genesis wants to make the purchase of their car an all-encompassing experience that hones in on making the buyer’s life easier than ever before.
The coolest part is this valet. They’re not talking about parking your car, they’re talking about you scheduling exactly when you want your car serviced with your app, and somebody will come to any location you set, drop off an equal car, take your car in for check-ups and changes, then drive your car back to you in a set amount of time.
Raphael and the Genesis focused on something that I hadn’t really heard from a car presentation before: time being the ultimate luxury. Their words, not mine. With our society constantly becoming more selfish, lazier or busier (depending on who you are), and more dependent on technology, Genesis wants buying its car to also mean buying a package that shows the utmost respect of the buyer’s time. Because the car will come with such a specialized service, it will only be sold in select Hyundai stores until they get their own dealerships. From 835 Hyundai stores, only about 450 of those sold the Equus, and of those, Genesis is choosing less than 300 to plant flags in. It’ll kind of be like those Beats by Dre, Microsoft, or Apple set ups you see in Best Buys, where they have their own little sections and their own people to cater to the customers.
The complimentary service packages are all based on three-year timelines. Three years/36,000 miles of scheduled maintenance, three years/36,000 miles “valet services,” three years connected smartphone services like remote controls for the doors or climate control, and three years of SiriusXM with various news and automatically updating maps. That all comes with the car. And if you haven’t figured it out by now, it’s all three-year spans because Genesis is expecting about 70 to 80 percent of sales to be leased contracts. And if you actually purchase, you get their famous 10-year/10,000-mile powertrain warranty
The coolest part is this valet. They’re not talking about parking your car, they’re talking about you scheduling exactly when you want your car serviced with your app, and somebody will come to any location you set, drop off an equal car, take your car in for check-ups and changes, then drive your car back to you in a set amount of time. That means buyers would never have to set foot in a dealership, if they didn’t want to, and again, hours could be saved for the customer. That’s a great thing, especially considering some think Hyundai has a poor customer service reputation. Still, none of this matters if the car isn’t up to par.