Mark Del Rosso, following his sudden resignation as president of Audi of America in May, has resurfaced at upstart luxury rival Genesis.
Del Rosso has been named CEO of Genesis Motors North America, effective Oct. 21. He will report to Hyundai Motor Group COO and North American CEO Jose Munoz. He will also report to Hyundai's global headquarters in Seoul.
Erwin Raphael, who has been leading Genesis, will continue as COO of Genesis Motor America, the company said in a statement Friday. He will be in charge of Genesis strategy and operations in the U.S., including sales and marketing, and report to Del Rosso.
Del Rosso joins Genesis as the brand recovers from a rocky start. It's adding U.S. dealer points after cutting and revamping its network. Sales are rising, and much-needed new crossovers are in the pipeline.
"Though Genesis is the youngest luxury automotive brand in the industry, having separated from parent Hyundai less than four years ago, it has been quickly gaining traction," Munoz said in a statement obtained by Automotive News. "Given Mark's overall proven track record and extensive experience leading luxury brands, I'm thoroughly confident that Genesis Motors North America will be positioned to accelerate its growth and climb the ladder of luxury automotive brands to the top."
Compared with the established luxury brands, Genesis is a low-volume player in the United States and Canada. However, armed with a lineup of just three sedans, its U.S. sales are up 67 per cent to 14,909 vehicles through the first nine months of the year. In Canada, sales are up 16 per cent to 1,180 vehicles.
Part of that U.S. increase is attributable to the fact that Genesis is rebuilding its dealership network. In Genesis' early days, Hyundai dealerships could sell and service the luxury vehicles. However, Genesis wanted to offer a luxury experience to customers, so standalone stores were required. Many dealers bowed out, and the number dropped nearly in half last year.
But the network is recovering quickly. At the beginning of 2019, Genesis had 178 U.S. franchises, according to Automotive News' annual dealership census. As of summer, it had about 330 in operation, and it expected to end the year at 350.
Hyundai is also adding Genesis stores in Canada.
Genesis also added the G70 compact sport sedan, named the 2019 North American Car of the Year. It competes with the likes of the segment-leading Mercedes C class, BMW 3 series and Audi A4. Through September, Genesis has sold 8,506 G70s in the United States, which accounts for 57.1 per cent of the brand's volume. The G70 has so far outsold the competing Mercedes CLA, BMW 2 series, Audi A3, Infiniti Q40/Q60 and Lexus RC in the United States.
North of the border, G70 sales are up 30 per cent to 871 and account for 74 per cent of total Genesis sales in Canada. However, sales still trail those of the BMW 2 series and Audi A3 in Canada.
Del Rosso stepped down from Audi of America in May, less than six months after he became president. At the time, Audi would not elaborate on the reason for his departure. He previously headed Bentley's Americas division and spent nine years as COO of Audi of America.
During Del Rosso's tenure as COO, the company recorded seven consecutive years of record volume. The brand saw 107 consecutive months of U.S. sales gains in a streak that ended in September last year. Audi said Del Rosso strengthened the financial health of the dealer network and managed profitable growth to ensure greater franchise value.
Before joining Audi, Del Rosso spent 17 years with Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Among his colleagues there: Brian Smith, now COO of Hyundai Motor America, and Michael O'Brien, a Hyundai vice president in charge of product planning.