Genesis decline tied to licensing bump

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LOS ANGELES – A quick look at the American sales figures of Genesis Motor America suggests that the young luxury brand is fueling at a critical point in its development. But the numbers do not tell the full story.

While sales almost tripled in 2017, the monthly reports of this year have fallen sharply. Sales in November fell by 77 percent to only 417 vehicles. They are almost 48 percent lower for the year.

The drop-off, however, is largely a by-product of the accelerated separation of the Hyundai brand, says Brian Smith, COO of Hyundai Motor America. As the companies turn off the divorce, Smith said, Hyundai executives realized that it would take longer than expected to comply with the franchise guidelines that vary from state to state.

March would turn out to be the last month that dealers receive shipments of 2018 Genesis models while the brand made a separate line from Hyundai in every state. Dealers had to follow the example to get a license and sell 2019 Genesis products and much more.

"Instead of leaving the 19 year model year 19 out, we decided that this would be the break," Smith said.

At the end of September, the licensing trip of Genesis was almost complete with 45 states on its belt.

Now comes the sporty 2019 G70 sedan, a North American Car of the Year finalist and gets a noticeable push during "Monday Night Football" halftone shows, popping up in stores across the country. The brand expects 100 to 200 dealers to have them by the end of the year. Genesis sold 128 G70s in November.