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Genesis luxury brand drives into region at Northtown dealership

If you haven't heard of the Genesis luxury car brand, Northtown Automotive would like to change that.

Northtown has opened the first Genesis dealership in New York State, and just started selling the vehicles last week, through Genesis of Amherst.

Genesis is a luxury brand established by Hyundai. For now, Northtown will sell Genesis vehicles at its Hyundai showroom on Sheridan Drive in Amherst. Temporary signs will go up soon, promoting that Genesis is on the property, too.

Northtown will eventually open a standalone Genesis showroom, but hasn't finalized when or where, said Craig Schreiber, co-owner of Northtown Automotive.

Northtown decided to apply to become a Genesis dealer based on the quality of the vehicles, Schreiber said. "What sold me was the product. It was outstanding."

This is Northtown's 18th franchise. But the dealer group faces the challenge of promoting a brand that is new to the Buffalo Niagara region. It's getting some help in the form of strong ratings of Genesis from J.D. Power, Consumer Reports and AutoPacific.

"To launch a brand when they're already receiving top accolades is kind of refreshing," Schreiber said.

Genesis sponsors the halftime show of "Monday Night Football," which, coincidentally, features the Bills on Monday, drawing more local viewers.

Northtown was the Buffalo Niagara region's first Hyundai dealer, in 1987, and has remained a strong seller of that brand ever since, Schreiber said. That long-standing relationship may have helped Northtown get picked for a Genesis franchise, he said.

"The advantage of being the first is, we get to be a sounding board for" Genesis, Schreiber said. "And they're very receptive to listening to what the dealers say."

Northtown plans to eventually open a standalone Genesis showroom. (John Hickey/Buffalo News)

Hyundai, a South Korean automaker, has been laying the groundwork for its Genesis U.S. dealer network for some time. Genesis has changed course a couple of times about how to roll out the network, and is still building its supply of vehicles for the U.S. market. Genesis has three models in its lineup, the G70, G80 and G90, with sticker prices starting at about $35,000 for the least expensive of them. An SUV will join the lineup in about a year.

Genesis of Amherst has sold two vehicles so far. Joe Hurley, general manager of Northtown Hyundai, Subaru and now Genesis, said one customer told him he had shopped a number of other luxury brands before settling on a Genesis. "He just said it blows him away, and part of it is he likes the fact that no one else has one," Hurley said.

Schreiber said Northtown hasn't determined when or where to open a standalone Genesis dealership, but the dealer group owns a lot of properties along Sheridan Drive to choose from. Northtown recently renovated a handful of its other dealerships, and has more work to do in the near future with some of its other showrooms.

As Genesis of Amherst gets up and running, Northtown expects to initially sell 280 to 300 of the vehicles a year.

"I kind of looked at this as a long-term investment," Schreiber said. "I wasn't thinking I would make a significant (return on investment) right away. But I didn't want to miss out on this opportunity. There's been too many brands that we've passed on in their infancy that perhaps we should have given another look."

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