Hyundai Launches Genesis Luxury Brand, Announces Luc Donckerwolke’s Appointment

Hyundai has been eyeing the lucrative premium segment for a while, previewing luxury vehicles like the HCD-14 Genesis concept at the 2013 Detroit auto show and, most recently, the Vision G concept at Pebble Beach this summer. It was only a matter of time before the company decided to announce the arrival of its new upmarket brand, Genesis, which it did at an event this week.

The announcement of the new Genesis luxury brand to sit as a halo range in the company’s lineup was also accompanied by another announcement: that of the anticipated hire of former Bentley design boss Luc Donckerwolke. As previously reported, Donckerwolke will join the company in April of next year and charged with leading the brand into luxury territory.


Akin to Toyota’s Lexus nameplate and Nissan’s Infiniti brand, the new Hyundai luxury brand will become the automaker’s flagship and raise the ‘Modern Premium’ mantra already touted on models like the Equus to new heights.

The company plans to launch six new Genesis models by 2020, each wearing the new brand emblem and sporting a new alphanumeric naming structure, which will begin with the letter G and rise through numbers to represent the model’s segment.

Donckerwolke’s task is to further develop a new a design identity for the brand to differentiate the luxury offshoot from its parent company. He will lead the Genesis brand‘s design initiatives from the newly created Prestige Design Division at the company’s headquarters in South Korea, where he will also assume the role as head of Hyundai’s Design Center and report to Peter Schreyer.


“In creating the design signature of Genesis brand cars, we set out to display confidence and originality, creating highly desirable products that present new charm through innovative styling and proportions,” says Schreyer.

Hyundai says the new Genesis luxury brand will deliver ‘human-centered’ luxury, and feature the highest standards of innovation, performance, elegance in design and experience. This will be communicated through high attention to detail and craftsmanship in order to elevate the sensory experience within the vehicle, but also at the dealer level.

The company says the new model line-up will ‘distance itself from the traditional technological overload of brand-focused competitors’ and offer a personalized customer experience. Reading between the lines, this translates to ‘we don’t have to worry about being bogged down by heritage so we’re free to explore new directions and become a real force in the global luxury car market.’ It’s a smart move, and the brand name is fitting.

Hyundai HCD-14 Genesis concept
Hyundai HCD-14 Genesis concept

Initially on sale in the Korean, Chinese, North American and Middle Eastern luxury car markets, the Genesis brand will expand its reach to Europe and other parts of Asia as the model range expands.

As mentioned previously, the decision to launch a new premium brand to compete against established luxury marques is something that Hyundai’s been mulling for some time. I doubt the decision was taken lightly. But as many people in US States currently remove the Hyundai logo from their cars and retain the Genesis nameplate to make the vehicle appear more premium, the launch of the new brand is a calculated move that will surely pay dividends in years to come.

And it also seems that they’ve picked the right candidate to push the effort forwards. Donckerwolke clearly has a lot to look forward to.


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