I didn’t realize Lexus was in trouble.
An article in USA Today talked about how Toyota is trying to rebuild its Lexus brand. I guess it really shouldn’t have been a surprise. When I started thinking about Lexus I realized that I couldn’t think of a single car in its lineup. They’re probably great cars, mind you, but there’s nothing that sticks out. Even more amazing is that I can remember more Cadillacs.
Apparently, I’m not the only one to draw that blank. According to the article, Lexus has gone from being the top-selling luxury car to number three behind BMW and Mercedes. When the brand was first introduced back in 1989, Toyota would have been thrilled to finish third. Now it’s just a glaring example of how far they have fallen. There is no single reason for the decline. Lexus was tainted by Toyota’s problems with unintended acceleration. The tsunami that hit Japan caused supply problems. But the biggest problem is its lack of style.
The company has done some serious intelligence gathering over the past year. They’re talking to Lexus owners as well as folks who drive the competition. And while it’s great to have bulletproof cars that are technological masterpieces, their target audience wants more. They want pizzazz. One woman quoted in the article who drove a European car that had given her nothing but trouble said that she kept driving it because it was like “It’s like a bad boyfriend. He lets you down but you keep coming back because he looks so good.”
So how do the folks running Lexus plan to fix their problem? They’re turning to your kids.
Lexus discovered that a lot of grownups turn to their teens for car advice. It’s the children who pass judgment on whether the car is cool or stodgy. And after all, who wants to be stodgy. Especially when you’re spending that money. I guess it’s the same reason I give my sons veto power over my clothes.
Needless to say there’s a lot more that is going to go into the re-formation of Lexus. The car has to be something you lust over, but the ownership experience has to be just as great. I remember when I bought my first Infiniti. I was amazed at how well I was treated every time I showed up for service. After awhile, you actually feel like you deserve to own a luxury car.
I wish Lexus well. And I’m looking forward to watching the mark claw its way back.
Incidentally, the first step is the Lexus LFA. I think my kids would be impressed.