Genesis Boss Thinks German Automakers Invest in “Stupid” Tech
If you’re not sure features like gesture controls and perfume diffusers are really features at all, you may have an ally in Albert Biermann, Genesis’ head of performance and former head of BMW’s M division. Speaking to reporters at the launch of the new Genesis G70 sports sedan, Biermann took aim at his former employer and other German automakers, claiming they’re wasting money on technology that is only marginally useful.
Australia’s Drive reports that Biermann dismissed a lot of the new features in luxury cars, calling it “all marketing.” He then added, “Much of this exists for media, to give a hype, to show the technology level. But how many people really buy it later on? If the tech will fail, you’re just adding the burden to the buyer, right?”
According to Biermann, Genesis has decided to focus on simpler, more useful features that can be trusted to work for years to come. That’s partly because Hyundai chairman Chung Mong-koo wants the automaker’s cars to still drive like new after 10 years on the road. To achieve that goal, the cars undergo a lot of testing during development.
“We have 30,000 km (18,641 miles) test driving in [Hyundai’s research and development headquarters] Namyang, with all the bad cobblestones and potholes you cannot imagine. We run our cars there for 30,000 km, and then on top of that, we do 10,000 km (6,214 miles) at the Nürburgring,” said Biermann. “I don’t think anyone else is doing that anymore—maybe Porsche or Ferrari. But all the other guys, they’ve stepped down from 10,000 km to 8,000 km (4,971 miles) or 5,000 km (3,107 miles). And some, they do nothing anymore.”
Biermann also thinks that at a certain point, cars get big enough that automakers should stop pretending they can be corner carvers. “If I want to sell a G90 to a U.S. customer, there are other OEMs that show their flagship car on the racetrack,” he said. “The car in the luxury car segment, they show all the racetrack talent, but which 2.2-ton (4,850-pound) luxury segment car will ever see the racetrack?”
And the way he tells it, focusing on keeping cars reliable, comfortable, and relatively simple works for Genesis. “In our G90, you will not find any air suspension, or active roll-bars, or active whatever. A camera sensing the road, and this stuff. It’s stupid,” Biermann explained. “We have a solid Hyundai steel platform, tonnes of high-strength steel—okay, it’s a little bit heavier than the other cars—and we have adjustable shock absorbers, and that’s it. We still outpace the S-Class in the double lane-change in the Consumer Reports. We almost beat the BMW without all the fancy stuff.”
On the one hand, Biermann definitely has a point. Luxury sedans offer plenty of features that sound more exciting on paper than they are in practice, and when they break a few years down the line, fixing them can be pricey. Plus, it’s not like most luxury flagship buyers are more interested in their cornering than their ride comfort.
But you also have to wonder if he isn’t saying this partly because he doesn’t have the budget to invest in developing similar technologies. After all, Genesis has only been around since 2015, and launching a new luxury brand is incredibly expensive.
Either way, for buyers who want a luxury car that’s focused more on comfort and reliability than gimmicks, it sounds like Genesis is your brand.
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September 19, 2017 at 06:36PM
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