I like Kia and Genesis for the same reason that Mr. Regular liked the Stinger: it seems like they are underdogs in a world of German Shepherds, and because these brands are in a sense contributing to creating a more competitive landscape in their respective markets.

Or they would if Hyundai was able to market the Stinger and the Genesis brand in the United States. In my honest opinion they’ve had issues because of two things: Perception, and dealer inertia.

Perception:

Kia is an established brand in the US, but it’s known mostly for cars like the Spectra or the Sephia. Therefore trying to loose their image as economic shitbox is very hard in a market where the average car on the road is 11.5 years old and the average consumer is getting older and older (some rant about millenials). This is no better for Hyundai in general who also had issues breaking that very same stereotype. In fact, their range topping cars in 2017, the K900 and the Equus, both appear on Jalopnik’s “worst selling cars of 2017” list.

So they sort of gave up I suppose... which is where Genesis steps in. Once a sub-brand that sold mid level coupes, Hyundai thought they had enough brand recognition to make it a, uhh, Brand? But their introduction of the Genesis brand has been less than stellar, as they fail to release the cars and also a weird situation with dealers which is not good as far as selling luxury cars goes when you have no history of selling luxury cars. Which comes up nicely to why Hyundai wanted to give separate dealers for their very expensive cars:

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Kia dealers in the US suck... according to the people in the US.

According to The Internet, Kia dealers in the US are really bad, and you just can’t mix a car that is compared to a Panamera in Kia’s own website with dealers like this. So there’s no wonder that Hyundai wants to keep their fancy Genesis cars far away from their typical dealers, yet it has proven harder than usual to achieve that.

You see, I was surprised to read Kia dealers in the US were garbage, because I had a genuinely nice experience with them, they showed me their import logs so that we could chose any car, let us test a car, the service department isn’t a hole in a wall that is overcrowded, and their assessors are truthful. But this seems to be only true of Mexico where Kia and Hyundai have dumped a genuinely ridiculous amount of money to try and put themselves in the same level as VW; a classless brand that is attractive across a wide spectrum of buyers. This could also be because of PROFECO; the very aggressive consumer protection agency that closely monitors how dickish dealers are.

So the Stinger initially sold very little, attaining 1,500 dollar discounts on the very first ones to arrive here. But now they’re doing fine. Kia never had the judgmental attitude in Mexico, it has always been Hyundai here. It might’ve also helped that the range topping model here in Mexico is almost 12,000 dollars cheaper than in the US, this because Hyundai wanted to use “emotional marketing” to attract buyers in the US.

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I think these challenges are unique to Kia, Hyundai, and Genesis, who have struggled to go into higher regard in the US market despite other Asian brands like Toyota, Honda, and Nissan being able to have better ratings. That while also having relative success with their upmarket counterparts Lexus, Acura, and Infiniti.