[Five questions for...]
LEXUS INTERNATIONAL PRESIDENT
Lexus has changed its family face and is undergoing an image rebrand. What can we expect in the future? You can see with the GS that was launched last year, Lexus has gone through a big change. Lexus is now more emotional and the design is more aggressive. It’s quite different to drive too. We are continuing with this in the new IS, and going forward our design will continue to be aggressive with our hybrids. Our cars are going to be more passionate and emotional to drive. The LF-LC coupé shown at the Detroit motor show is a clear message of Lexus going forward.
How is Lexus doing in terms of sales compared to its key German rivals? The total sales volume for Lexus annually is about 500,000 units, and most of that is sold in the US. In the US for the past 10 years we have had some issues with quality, but we continue to have great sales in the luxury market. We launched the Lexus brand in Japan in 2005 and have already captured the number one spot in the luxury segment. However we continue to look into other markets as well, for example China is a key market, and we are certainly growing in the Middle East too.
Will Lexus start offering personalisation and customisation options, especially since it’s so important to Middle East buyers? We have started a customer customisation programme in Japan for the LS — we call it the L-Select. This is an example of Lexus putting so much focus on customer hospitality and this will continue as we plan to expand this activity globally.
Who do you consider your key rivals and how do you benchmark your vehicles to ensure you stay competitive? For Lexus the number of our luxury rivals is very small; it would be Mercedes-Benz, Audi and BMW. Of course there are other cars but these are basically our three main competitors. At Lexus we purchase their models and do a complete disassembly so that we can completely understand our competitors and their cars.
And how do you ensure you stand out in the market in terms of technology? We will be putting a lot of focus on technical development that will allow the designers to bring their ideas to reality. We would like to also continue providing the ultimate hybrid luxury models as well as pursue hydrogen fuel-cell technology.