Comfortable, dynamic, stylish and sumptuous, the Genesis GV70 is one hell of a luxury SUV. The upcoming battery-powered model promises to be another blockbuster for the brand, though Genesis is taking an unusually cautious approach with the new Electrified GV70, focusing on quality instead of sales volume.
This amped-up utility vehicle is something of pioneer for the luxury automaker because it’s the first Genesis model to be built outside of South Korea. All Electrified GV70s sold in the U.S. will be assembled at the Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama (HMMA) facility in Montgomery, the state capital. This plant is also home to the Elantra sedan and Santa Cruz compact pickup truck as well as the Santa Fe and Tucson SUVs.
“There’s a tremendous amount of priority being given to the build quality and the durability of the vehicle, and that comes first before volume,” said Tedros Mengiste, vice president of sales operations at Genesis Motor America during a media presentation in Alabama. “[We] want to make sure everything is to everyone’s expectation, if not more before we turn up the speed … So, I think that’s more important for us right now than volume numbers,” he added.
Company representatives shied away from sharing any annual production estimates, saying instead the market will determine how many Electrified GV70s get built, but the volume, at least initially, will be a trickle. Robert Burns, vice president and chief administrative officer for HMMA said the Electrified GV70 will only get assembled during one of the plant’s shifts. “And we can be as much as 30 vehicles in a shingle day,” he added, “But that’s just depending on part deliveries, paint processes, there’s a lot of variables. So, it could be between 15 and 30 [vehicles per day].”
Building a new model in a different plant that’s an ocean away from home is just asking for trouble, which is likely a major reason why Genesis is being so conservative with manufacturing the Electrified GV70 in the US. Also, the workers building the Electrified GV70 have to be trained and gain experience assembling this new model, which has its own quirks compared to the other vehicles Hyundai builds in Alabama.
“The key thing that I think I should point out is, versus an ICE (internal-combustion engine) vehicle in an electric vehicle, is the number of electrical connections … A really high level of attention is required because the last thing you want to have is a soft connection,” explained Burns, where a plug is not fully seated in its socket. Beyond that, this Genesis SUV’s bodywork gets special attention. “We had to install additional capabilities for our painting systems and vision systems to make sure we have a high-quality paint finish for that vehicle,” he added. The Electrified GV70 gets a different clearcoat than its Hyundai siblings, something that called for special robots that automatically switch between the two clearcoats for a seamless manufacturing process.
Every automaker wants its new product launches to go without a hitch, but this is far easier said than done. As always, the stakes are high for Genesis. “In such a short time we’ve built up quite a reputation for outstanding quality and safety,” said Mengiste, so the company doesn’t want to risk stumbling out of the gate. “Everyone can preach what they are. I mean, my kid tells me he’s the best kid in the class, and until I see the report card, I hold my judgment.”
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Given this brand’s established reputation for building high-quality vehicles, a slow production ramp-up and the fact that the Electrified GV70 is based on and existing — and proven — vehicle, Genesis should be in a good place to avoid any recalls or major issues with this battery-powered SUV. Of course, such a conservative approach means vehicles will likely be in short supply, but customers that do manage to get their hands on one should be delighted by the quality.