Hyundai’s luxury brand Genesis is preparing to unleash a striking grand touring sports coupe powered by an electric-assisted powertrain.
It is part of an ambitious plan to become a serious player against established luxury rivals that took a major step forward at the 2017 New York motor show with the unveiling of the GV80 Concept that previews the brand’s first SUV.
The South Korean brand’s show car also revealed its future design direction and the company’s head of design, Luc Donckerwolke, also confirmed that a two-door grand tourer will follow, along with another smaller SUV, to give the brand a better chance of competing with the likes of Lexus, BMW and Mercedes-Benz.
But Donckerwolke, whose career has included stints at Lamborghini, Audi and Bentley, says he isn’t looking to the competition for inspiration or to set the agenda for Genesis. Instead he wants to use Genesis’ lack of heritage to his advantage before confirming the GT car is coming.
“To be honest I’m not really looking at the others,” Donckerwolke said in New York. “I have the advantage of creating something new, I don’t have to look at the others. But there’s certainly going to be a Gran Turismo two-door.”
Asked if the Gran Turismo would be powered by a version of the brand’s 5.0-litre V8, Donckerwolke played down those chances, instead saying the company was looking towards alternative powertrains for its future models.
“As much as I like to drive V8s I believe electrification is going to be a main element,” he said. “Like the powertrain of this [GV80 concept] having a range-extender fuel cell for an electric vehicle or an electric powertrain is a great source. Hyundai and Genesis are being pioneers of fuel cell technology, being the first company that has put fuel cell technology in production and on sale, it’s the way to go.”
Those comments were backed up by similar sentiment from Genesis global boss Manfred Fitzgerald, who made no secret of his desire to focus on alternative powertrains to try and further differentiate the brand from its rivals that have a heavy focus on internal combustion engines (ICE), especially in performance cars.
“I stated once that alternative propulsion systems are at the core of this brand and I truly believe that,” Fitzgerald said. “If you look at that and you look down the road at what is going to happen with the electrification of vehicles, performance will not have that dominant role anymore because it’s a level playing field. So the ICE dominances of performance, that’s going to go away.”
He added: “The customer will be going by other things. That will be the brand, that will be the design, that will be connectivity, that will be the future hallmarks of brands.”
Fitzgerald believes that the move towards electric performance cars will also mean a more level playing field in terms of bragging rights.
“I think the electric performance will somewhat be on par. I think if you can accelerate [to 100km/h] in under 3.0 seconds then it’s meaningless if it is 2.7 or 2.6 – who cares?” he said.
Donckerwolke also highlighted the emerging trend away from diesel engines in Europe in the wake of the on-going Volkswagen emissions scandal. Which also makes the chances of the Gran Turismo model being powered by a large internal combustion engine slim.
“I think what’s happening now, with emissions and everything is not giving a great future to other powertrains,” Donckerwolke said.
“See what’s happening. Diesels are being banned from the cities. Emissions have to be reduced drastically. Today a V8 is not exactly responding to that environment.”