Report: Lexus GS Almost Cancelled by Akio Toyoda


2013 Lexus GS

Have to share this excellent AutoWeek article by Mark Rechtin that details how the Lexus GS was almost cancelled due to internal bureaucracy:

Toyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda had put the GS on the chopping block, but a last-ditch effort from U.S. and European executives saved the car. In the process, the company overhauled the way Lexus executives report to top management in Japan–giving the luxury brand a stronger voice at the highest levels of the company.

“I didn’t want this car,” Toyoda said at the debut of the GS, which goes on sale in early 2012. But Lexus’ regional management teams “fought me like crazy.”

“There were some executives, including Akio, who thought, in terms of our priority list, that the GS should be delayed or canceled,” said Andrew Coetzee, now U.S. vice president of Lexus Brand Development.

Coetzee says Toyoda’s pessimism resulted from the many layers of Japanese executives through which Lexus’ overseas managers reported. Only when Lexus’ global team members appealed directly to Toyoda did the boss change his mind.

Even though it’s almost impossible to imagine a Lexus lineup without the GS, it’s easy to see how the third-generation GS’ poor sales and general inability to compete with the segment leaders would lead to some very difficult decisions.

Now, corporate handwringing is one thing, but how Akio Toyoda dealt with the issue is another:

Company officials say Toyoda decided there was a flaw in the system. As part of the company’s management reorganization in April, he created a new reporting structure that gives Lexus more influence.

Previously, at least four layers of r&d, sales and marketing executives in Japan separated Toyoda from overseas executives responsible for the Lexus brand. But a new Lexus Product and Market Planning Division was formed with a direct line to Toyoda.

The division is headed by Japan-based executive Karl Schlicht, who reports to managing officer Kiyotaka Ise. Ise, whose only responsibility is Lexus, reports to Toyoda.

Unafraid to change his mind, Toyoda-san saw a fundamental issue that needed addressing and then set about solving the real problem, cutting away the levels between himself and the people responsible for the brand’s direction.

Of course, by surviving its near-cancellation and causing all this high-level change as a result, the fourth-generation Lexus GS also has to live up to some heightened expectations — something that’s hinted by this comment by TMS CEO Yoshi Inaba:

“The GS may be low volume [in the past], but it is symbolic of the new Lexus,” said Yoshi Inaba, CEO of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A.

Considering the early test drive reviews and my time with the car last week, I think this new GS has what it takes to truly compete in the market, especially considering this final article quote:

The hybrid version will be unveiled at the Frankfurt auto show next month. An F-Sport model, equipped with a suspension and body package, and possibly a supercharger, will be seen at the Specialty Equipment Market Association show in November in Las Vegas.

I’ve been hearing whispers about a GS supercharger since early this year, though this is the first media mention I’ve seen — needless to say, there’s some very exciting times ahead.

Read the full AutoWeek Lexus GS Article

Comments


  • http://www.facebook.com/RDS.Alphard Yong Thian Ding

    The Super Charger Kit is available in Japan for the same 2GR-FSE engine but it’s for a Toyota Mark X .

    318ps @ 6,400rpm > 360ps @ 6,400rpm
    380Nm @ 4,800rpm > 498Nm @ 3,200rpm

    Source :
    http://toyota.jp/customize/markx/supercharger/index.html

  • Anonymous

    I was surprised when he said on stage that at first – he didn’t want this car! Left me wondering what his initial vision was… 

    And supercharger?… this is getting exciting! 

  • Anonymous

    Sweet! So glad it worked out for the better! Toyoda-san’s speech was awe-inspiring, but I didn’t think he was this serious!

    This is GREAT! I’m excited for the future! Mark Templin said he was afraid of the lack of interest in a V8 or a GS F… I can’t imagine the GS with a lack of power either!

  • Anonymous

    If hes afraid of the lack of interest in a V8 or GS-F … thats not a good thing! That means he is scared that no one will buy it!!! 

    Lets hope that they still produce a GS-F… 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Lasse-J-Nordvik/100001045418399 Lasse J. Nordvik

    I may sound like a sufferer of broken record syndrome,but I can’t help but think that Lexus’ inability to offer a full,varied model range like the Germans do is a big part of the problem with modest sales figures for the GS. The E-class is available as sedan,wagon and coupe with loads of engine and drive line options. The GS-range in the European market currently consists of one single model. Personally I’m as brand loyal as Akio himself,but to snatch more buyers from Audi,Mercedes and BMW showrooms I really think Lexus needs to abandon their “one size fits all” model policy.

  • Anonymous

    Lexus understood the importance of the IS F! Let’s hope the GS F comes out and hopefully with a V10!!!

  • Anonymous

    Lexus has been able to stay competitive in the US despite fewer variety. I think it’s time Lexus finds a way to efficiently produce more!

  • Anonymous

    It really is starting to sounds as if this model is more of a facelift-level sort of update! Even the whole new welding idea is nothing new – the new Camry received some too. I suppose this is an efficient way to do new stuff…

  • Thegreatkingissafe

    Very much agreed. Also the German’s ability to mix and match options and colors would be nice for Lexus to be able to offer the individuality option if it fits with the just-in-time production format aka The Toyota Way.

  • Anonymous

    Seriously??? Its way more than an update!  … this car is just stunning in person !! So much new tech, a gorgeous – totally redesigned – interior, as well as a redesigned exterior with a mean looking front end! I was lucky to be at the reveal – they let everyone up on stage to check the car out! 
    This car puts the 3GS to shame (IMO)… Every review has said that this is one of the best handling Lexus to date – even rivaling the ISF (And excluding the LFA of course) If you put this 4GS next to the 3Gs… you wouldn’t even know they are the same model!!!

  • Travis

    I agree with Nataraj. Right on.

    The 4th gen GS Makes other other Lexus before it look like nothing.

  • Rottmaster_dnc

    it’s hard for lexus to compete with the germans in the european market because there isn’t a diesel engine for the gs. moast of the audi, mercedes or bmw’s that are sold in europe are diesels. europeans like diesel engines because of low consumption, good tork, plus diesel is cheeper than gasoline. personaly i think hybrids are the futere, but people are still sceptical to this relativly new tehnology. i think that for the european market, in order to steel as much customers from audi, mercedes and bmw they need diesel engiens.

  • Anonymous

    aha I guess I’m just having a hard time loving this thing, but I suppose my comment was a bit ignorant :P
    The headlights are just too… not exciting and has quality of other brands’.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Lasse-J-Nordvik/100001045418399 Lasse J. Nordvik

    Diesels are popular here in Europe,but that might change. One thing being stricter emission regulations in the near future,another being that hybrids are catching on. I shan’t pretend to have anywhere near enough insight into the auto industry to say which would be the right choice for Lexus;to offer diesels in addition to hybrids or trust that diesel buyers will change their preference,but I’m confident they’ll know what to do. Personally I love diesels in vans,trucks and commercial vehicles but even the best diesels (and Toyota has some real gems) just seem a bit out of place in a passenger car.

  • Rottmaster_dnc

    “might change” does not increase sales. i strongly belive that in order for lexus to steel customers from other premium car manufactures on the european market, for the moment and the near future diesel engiens are the solution. I personaly like gas engiens moast. i drove bouth the is 250, and the 220d, and the diesel just looks like a lexus but doesn’t feel like one. i think that the 2,2 (177 hp) diesel engiene from toyota is good choice for the entry level, but a somthing like a 240 hp v6 diesel will be the prefered choice for many.
    I am envolved in car sales and i speek from statistics made at the EU level. Personal likes or dislikes don’t necessary sale. :)

  • Eddie

    totally with you on that…

  • http://lexusenthusiast.com krew

    Great find — I would imagine this is at least similar to what may be offered. 355 hp would be fantastic.

  • http://lexusenthusiast.com krew

    I also want to see this — I think customization & performance are the only ways that luxury manufacturers are going to be keep ahead of the pack.

  • http://lexusenthusiast.com krew

    It was quite a surprising revelation, that’s for sure. Still, I doubt it would have been cancelled outright, likely it would have been pushed back, similar to what we’re seeing with the SC.

  • http://lexusenthusiast.com krew

    A very good point, and one I’m sure Lexus has realized — I think the GS 250 is proof of that, though I would still like to see a 4-cylinder GS or a diesel for the European market.

  • http://lexusenthusiast.com krew

    It was disappointing to learn that the diesel GS was a false rumor — it would have been a great move in my opinion.

  • Bob

    Lexus should pull out of Europe in my opinion.. It would make sense from a financial point of view.. They waste more money operating in EU then making..

    Lexus largest EU market UK sells less Lexus cars then Australia a country of 22million..

  • Mark

    Looks nice but it looks like a bigger version of the IS. 

  • http://lexusenthusiast.com krew

    Abandoning such an important & influential market doesn’t really make much sense to me, regardless of how many cars Lexus is selling. The CT has helped to make some inroads, and should continue to improve their position — I think Lexus sees Europe as a challenge, and are now focused on making progress.

  • http://lexusenthusiast.com krew

    Abandoning such an important & influential market doesn’t really make much sense to me, regardless of how many cars Lexus is selling. The CT has helped to make some inroads, and should continue to improve their position — I think Lexus sees Europe as a challenge, and are now focused on making progress.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Lasse-J-Nordvik/100001045418399 Lasse J. Nordvik

    Lexus does seem more committed to, and ambitious about the European market than ever before,and the European buyers are responding more than ever too. No reason at all to give up now.