Lexus International’s vice president, Mark Templin admitted at the launch of the sixth generation Lexus ES that the company made the wrong decision by not producing the fifth-generation ES in right-hand drive.
“We screwed up, we made a mistake. It was a huge part of volume in many parts of the world, in some cases was 50-60 percent. But overall volume was too small. We made a bad decision and took it away from those markets and it hurt.” Templin said.
Templin later told CarAdvice that Lexus has never been about chasing volume, but the lack of an ES model hurt Lexus Australia in other ways.
“I think we were going the right direction until we yanked the carpet from underneath them and took the ES away from them. That’s one of the core problems here.
We had a nice steady approach to the right direction, ES was doing good volume, we had a great reputation, we yanked the rug out and took a whole chunk of volume so everybody tried to make up the volume by selling more of the other things that you do have and then you make mistakes, have incentives and do things that you’re not about, so I think we screwed up.” he said.
The sixth-generation Lexus ES, which has been a hit in North America, is priced from $63,000 locally and is expected to help boost Lexus Australia’s volume, which so far this year is only up by around two percent, compared with BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi which have seen 13, 25 and 11 percent growth respectively.
Templin is adamant that Lexus is now on the ascendency path with a brand rejuvenation strategy and a range of new products on the way.
“I think we can make up for that, whatever that small SUV ends up looking like with Lexus NF-LX, and the emotion and the passion we can get by bringing a car with Lexus RC plus ES, NX volume will help us a lot.”
The expanded product range for Lexus Australia will also be joined by the arrival of a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine set to debut at the Tokyo Motorshow later this month.
It will give Lexus a better chance to compete against its German rivals, which have long ago abandoned naturally aspirated engines for more performance and fuel-efficient force-fed powerplants.
Read: Lexus ES Review.