This year’s North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit was a big chance for Lexus to reclaim its pride, having lost the number one sales position (due to supply constraints caused by natural disasters) in the USA in 2011 after a ten-year winning record.
Karl Schlicht, Lexus’ global general manager, is moving Lexus into its third phase of operations. Speaking to CarAdvice in Detroit, Peter Evans, Corporate Manager of Marketing and After Sales at Lexus Australia said “phase one was to establish the brand, phase two was to build a model range and phase three, which we recognized as being required, is to establish the emotional experience of the brand.”
According to Evans, Lexus is a “very rational, very logical, good quality” brand, having remained the benchmark for quality in the U.S. (JD power) for the last decade, but he admits that it’s “not an emotionally engaging brand”. The progress into phase three will see the company “bring emotion to the brand in two areas: design (hence the new bolder face) but also the driving experience. That’s what the new generation of cars will bring”.
Mr Evans said this wasn’t possible before as it wasn’t until a few years ago when Lexus was fairly represented in Toyota’s Japanese headquarters. He said that previously if the company had ”a choice to build a coupe for Lexus to sell 50,000 or a new Corolla that will sell one million, Lexus always got pushed to the back”. However, Toyota’s luxury arm now gets allocated amount of resources for which it can produce whatever it needs.
Lexus Australia saw its sales decline slightly in 2011 (compared to 2010), mainly due to the natural disasters in Japan and Thailand. Mr Evans expects sales to lift from 6,346 to around 7-8,000. Helped along by the launch of the new GS sedan, LX facelift, update to the RX and an all new Lexus LS range.
Lexus is expected to launch eight new F-Sport variants this year, as 29 percent of the company’s sales are coming from these variants (even though the variant is not available across the models). Mr Evans hinted at GS 350 and 450, RX 350 and 450h, LS 460 and 600h and potentially IS 250c. He left the eight variant out, which makes us think there is a surprise for Lexus in store this year.