Understanding the Relationships Between Genesis, Hyundai, and Kia (Because We All Confused)

This isn’t some apologist post that will get you to turn in your Mitsubishi Diamante for a brand new Sonata. I just want all of you on Oppo to understand that the layout and operation of the Hyundai Group (Hyundai Motors, Kia Motors, Genesis Motors) is NOT the same set up we are used to from decades of badge swapping. I’m also going to explain what this whole Genesis thing is since it’s important.

When it comes to Genesis, let me start at where they’re going to be. Genesis Motors will eventually be separated from Hyundai Motors. I don’t mean that as just different dealerships. I don’t mean that as being Hyundai’s Lexus. I’m saying a completely separate company that is overseen by parent Hyundai Group. Look at it this way, every Genesis vehicle is going to be built on a RWD-based platform, including the SUVs. This also means that there won’t be any Hyundai models sharing the platforms or the powertrains, or even the AWD system within the SUVs. In fact, Genesis Motors’ products will have more in common with Kia Motors than ANY PART of Hyundai Motors. I mean at least Genesis places a matte silver coating over the same steering wheel switches, unlike FCA’s door switchgear from Dodge Jouney to Maserati Ghibli.


You know what, I think I can illustrate this in a better way since I know you’re prancing and pouncing with questions already.

What you have within the Hyundai Group are sibling brands rather than a heirarchy of brands. Look at it this way, Hyundai and Kia use the exact same parts and compete in the exact same market with the exact same identities. One isn’t Buick to another’s GMC or Chevrolet. One isn’t even Saturn to another’s Pontiac. They both can make the exact same level of car with the same technology and powertrains at the same price points for the same market and, miraculously, they are two different products! No badge engineering at all!! That should blow your mind since that would be unacceptable for any other brands. Here’s why it works:

Imagine allowing both of your kids to raid the Legos and asking them to build you a castle. They both are building the same thing for the same reasons using the same parts and even WATCHING the other sibling’s process and progress on how their respective castle is taking form, however you are going to end up with two different finished products. When you come in to see how they did, if little adopted brother Kia built a better castle than older sister Hyundai then you know the rules of sibling rivalry will ensure that Hyundai is going to rework that product to be better than Kia’s and vice versa. Even if it means stealing their design language! It’s funny how often people state that the current Hyundai Group products copy from eight other brands when they spend more time stealing from each other! They did (and do) take designs from other companies though, but that’s an upper brass move that goes back to when those other car brands weren’t significantly, if at all, sold in S. Korea. If your market doesn’t sell the Lexus LS then why wouldn’t you build a Lexus LS instead?


This is pretty different than what we are used to in the US. We are used to one of those siblings building that castle and then it being handed over to the next sibling to be reworked into their own “special and unique” castle. Most of the time you hope that the oldest is building the castle then handing it DOWN to each sibling until it makes it to the youngest one to tinker around with, losing the expensive pieces along the way. However, we have seen a lot of the younger siblings building the older one’s products and them trying to pass off that brilliant 8th grader’s essay as their own senior thesis. This is where most of those “premium/near-luxury” brands currently reside.

The key to this being successful and acceptable to consumers is that all the members of the family CANNOT work from a previously completed project. Even if one sibling watched while the other built, tested, and sold the product, the witnessing sibling needs to build from the same pieces instead of building from that finished product. This is how Hyundai Motors and Kia Motors have operated without much fear of cannibalizing each other, in fact this is how they are able to be rival brands without many issues outside of sibling disputes. Those disputes are brought to their parent (who’s name is Hyundai Group) instead of being turned into attack ads. This is an extraordinarily unique position to have in the auto industry and it’s obviously working out well.


At the moment, Genesis Motors is like a wife to Hyundai Motors. They are two different individuals but recognized as one and Genesis is part of the family due to that relationship. However, and I’ll get into this below, Genesis Motors will have a short marriage to Hyundai Motors even though they’ve been together for nearly a decade. Genesis is pretty much the Brad Pitt of this situation but will keep being a central part of the family. And much like a divorce, Genie is taking the best parts of Hyundai, namely:

The Genesis Sedan, the Equus successor, the upcoming Genesis Coupe, two CUVs that Hyundai desparately needed, htrac AWD, the RWD-platforms, the 3.8L V6, the 3.3L twin turbo V6, the 5.0L Tau V8, eventually the N Performance Group (because what the hell else are they going to build outside of 4-cyl turbo Elantras and Velosters with Hyundai when Genesis has a Lotus tuned chassis and 300hp plus engines as base models?), and all that sweet upscale brand equity, materials, and the best investments and service from their top dealers.


Yeah, pretty shitty divorce settlement for Hyundai Motors. And like most divorces, sibling Kia gets to enjoy all your old stuff and use the pool whenever they want for THEIR products! This is too real, bro. Hitting a little too close to home. Well not for me, but all the comedians I listen to say this is a thing so it’s probably a thing.

This, along with the completely separate executives and teams, all means Genesis Motors will be a standalone luxury brand in the same operational sense as BMW, Mercedes, Porsche, Jaguar, and Volvo. If you have been watching the industry then you will have noticed that Audi, Lexus, Cadillac, and Infiniti are trying to switch to this style of complete separation from their parent brands. Lincoln, Acura, and all of the FCA brands are struggling with this switch but now you can see how that Ferrari spin off was genius and years ahead of the market. This is also why FCA really wanted a merger with a manufacturer that ran in the same segments as they do. This relationship parent Hyundai Group has going between Genesis Motors, Hyundai Motors, and Kia Motors is dead on in regards to the operational setup all automakers need and are switching to. Luckily the Korean brands are still struggling with perception despite almost 10 years and two complete product generations of proving they got their shit together (excluding the old fogey top management which is holding all three of its Korean motor companies back). This gave all the other brands the chance they needed to stay in step with Hyundai Group. Bet you never expected to hear that statement within your lifetime!

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