Today Toyota President Akio Toyoda is expected to reveal the world’s largest carmaker’s motorsport plans for the year, with Lexus being also geared towards apparitions on global racing circuits – and the strategy might even impact the road cars the group produces.
For example, in the US Lexus lost premium segment supremacy to BMW and Mercedes after holding on to it for a decade – mainly because of a lack of fresh image products. But the once-staid luxury range has been almost completely overhauled and the Japanese brand has kept contact with the two premium rivals in the US last year. Its increases – outmatching gains of the opponents – also came without the brand resorting to affordable models (such as Mercedes’ CLA) or having a compact crossover (the NX model has just been introduced in dealerships). That signals the fact that Lexus is now attracting younger buyers and lifting sales of higher-priced models. While brand traditionalists might not be impressed with the latest in-your-face designs, the brand is pushing suppliers to increase output of sport seats and mesh grilles and also vamps the “F” line as an alternative to BMW’s M and Mercedes-Benz’s AMG.
According to Executive Vice President Mark Templin, the F Sport trim variants attract buyers five to 12 years younger than customers for the equivalent base models, with all F Sport model on sale so far soaring above delivery forecasts. “We’ve been really bold with where we’ve gone, and some people thought we were crazy,” commented Templin n the sidelines of the NAIAS in Detroit this month. Toyoda, 58, has opted to completely change Toyota’s 25-year-old luxury brand strategy – he is not only president of Toyota, but also Lexus’s chief branding officer and master driver.