Still, the Genesis space joins a handful of branded automotive experience centers in Lower Manhattan. From October until early December, Mercedes sponsored an 8,000-square-foot pop-up space one block north of Genesis House. Just east on 14th Street, Lexus underwrites its three-story, 16,500-square-foot Intersect by Lexus, which contains a cafe, a lounge and a bar, as well as a restaurant that features a rotating chef-in-residence, drawn from kitchens around the world. Downtown, at the Seaport at Pier 17, Lincoln sponsors lifestyle and cultural events that often feature the brand’s array of luxury S.U.V.s. And a bit north on West 26th Street, Lamborghini opened its Lamborghini Lounge, a 5,400-square-foot loft, in May.
These are car companies, so all of these spaces are, ultimately, focused on finding new ways to sell more cars. “Car shoppers — especially from the younger generation, Gen Z and millennials — are looking for more personalized and immersive experiences so they can truly experience the vehicle itself,” said Jessica Stafford, senior vice president for consumer solutions at Kelley Blue Book, an automotive research company.
Whether online or in person, consumers desire a low-pressure environment, absent a pushy salesperson. “They want to be able to touch, feel, look at and experience the vehicle itself without the hard sell right off the bat,” Ms. Stafford said. In fact, according to Kelley data, consumer satisfaction with car shopping has reached an all-time high in recent years, as the pandemic shifted more of the experience away from dealerships, digitally or elsewhere.
Each site has a specific goal.
Mercedes is spotlighting its new EQS luxury sedan, the first fully battery-powered production vehicle the brand sells in the United States. The focus is on demystifying the electric car lifestyle, with large interactive displays on charging and range.
Jan. 7, 2022, 4:50 p.m. ET
“So many people hesitate to make the jump to electric,” said Monique Harrison, Mercedes’s North American head of brand marketing. “But that’s because we haven’t really educated them yet on how easy it really is to own an electric vehicle.”
Lexus’ space is the least car-centric. There are no contemporary Lexus vehicles; instead, the richly welcoming space is meant to showcase core brand virtues. These include “omotenashi,” which Lexus describes as “an unwavering commitment to exceptional hospitality,” as well as “takumi” craftsmanship, “a quintessentially Japanese term translating roughly to artisan.”
It also provides visitors a more encompassing array of experiences, similar to Aston Martin’s forays into interior design or Ferrari’s latest venture in haute fashion.