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Genesis is an interesting brand. Decades after Japanese automakers launched premium nameplates of their own, South Korea’s Hyundai decided to spin off one of its sedans into an entire luxury sub-brand in 2015. The resulting vehicles have been solid performers, representing excellent value for individuals in the market for something fancier. Genesis is building real luxury cars and working to differentiate those models from Hyundai Motor Groups’ mainstream products.

But it’s had to overcome plenty of obstacles. While Genesis’ product might be dunking on some of the other Asian luxury brands, achieving the same notoriety has been difficult for the fresh nameplate. The company also isn’t targeting Acura, Infiniti, and Lexus. Its sights are set on the Germans, with many vehicles already comparing favorably. But if Genesis is to become a serious rival, it needs to distance itself from the Hyundai and Kia models it traditionally shares a lot with — resulting in its very first standalone retail store in the United States.

The new dealership, located in Lafayette, Louisiana, represents an important phase in the brand’s evolution. Genesis has already distanced itself from the mass-market brand it spawned from with its product and can now do so physically with higher-end showrooms it has all to itself.

From Genesis:

At Genesis of Lafayette, customers are able to take full advantage of an automotive purchase and ownership journey tailored to them. Genesis of Lafayette puts customers’ time and convenience at the center of the experience. Customers can book an at-home test drive online, and even take delivery of their new vehicle at their residence or place of business.

Genesis of Lafayette features distinct brand elements, a transparent, open floorplan, an indoor vehicle delivery area, and infrastructure to support the upcoming portfolio of Electrfied Genesis models. Clients are welcomed into an all-new showroom of award-winning Genesis vehicles. To match the finely-crafted products, unique design elements are on full display, such as a private brand cube where customers may review material samples, vehicle specifications, and more in a stress-free environment.

“We are glad to partner with Arthur LeBlanc and Sterling Automotive Group on our first standalone retail facility in the United States,” said Claudia Marquez, chief operating officer of Genesis Motor North America. “I want to extend my thanks to the entire Sterling Automotive Group for creating a space beautifully designed and so befitting of our remarkable products.”

The store is said to be “the first of many planned retail facilities for the brand in the United States” Genesis won’t need to share. The company shared plans to launch six additional locations as soon as possible — all of which were said to be under construction — with an additional twenty dealerships in the early stages of planning.

It seems to be good news for the South Korean company. However, Genesis’ long-term success is hardly assured. In addition to still being the new kid on the block, it also spent its first few years focused on sedans. While hardly a problem for those with a strong preference for them, the body style has been falling out of favor as manufacturers began pursuing higher-margin SUVs and consumers started focusing on interior volume. Another potential pitfall is the fact that mid-tier luxury vehicles are typically sold to middle-class shoppers, a demographic that’s been shrinking since the 1970s.

But those problems aren’t unique to Genesis. Japanese luxury brands have similarly needed to update their portfolios while creating more distance between their mainstream counterparts. Meanwhile, the Germans appear to have decided that going downmarket was a mistake. There’s a lot of shuffling going on within this quadrant of the industry, providing Genesis with an opportunity it cannot afford to squander.

[Images: Genesis]

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