Lexus Aims for Greater Autonomy, Customer Loyalty

By Jason Davis | May 07, 2012
Lexus is dull. That was the sentiment expressed by company brass late last summer at the unveiling of the 2013 GS, a car that Lexus hopes will infuse some much needed energy into Toyota's slipping luxury brand. And fortunately for Lexus, it has. The all-new GS was the first model revamped under the "make Lexus less-boring" mantra and since its release, has sold 4900 models in its first two months. That two-month figure was higher than what the sales from the 2011 model had in the entire year. And the success of the new GS, and the forthcoming redesign for the ES sedan, RX SUV refresh, and the not-yet-announced-but-coming-soon redesigns for the sporty IS sedan and the flagship LS sedan, should enable Lexus to reclaim the title of best-selling luxury brand in the US, a title it held for ten straight years prior to 2011. “What we want more than anything in this rebirth is for unity among our Lexus lineup,” said Kazuo Ohara, a senior managing officer at Lexus, speaking to Auto News. “A design that anyone and everyone likes is boring.” Automakers almost never admit this. And despite Lexus' reputation for being dependable, a recent survey reports that 30-percent of Lexus owners defect to the German rival brands. Part of the blame for uninspiring cars goes back to Toyota design philosophy, where a gaggle of middle managers interceded, watering down the final product. “We used to depend on Toyota’s scoring system and the opinions of executives who had nothing to do with the brand,” Ohara said. “When you try to please many people, you end up with a bland product with no character.” Now, Lexus has complete autonomy from Toyota. But will it live up to its lofty aspirations? Source: Automotive News