With the Facebook & Twitter online chat with Lexus USA General Manager Mark Templin scheduled to begin in just under a hour from now, I thought it would be a good idea to set up a place to follow along.
I will be updating this post with direct quotes from the Q&A session, along with an auto-updating Twitter widget that will display the conversation in real time — both after the jump.
The questions have started on Facebook:
Eric Wisniewski via Social Car News: Smart Phones are becoming a standard for the well-equipped professional. Bluetooth integration for the phone is nice, but what are Lexus’ plans for full integration with the sound system (play and control digital content on the mobile device(s)) as well as access to the main vehicle screen(s) and controls? In short, what are your plans to provide us with full integration of our handheld devices with the interfaces of our Lexus vehicle?
Mark Templin: Good question Eric. At Lexus, we update our models every 5 or 6 years, but in the electronics world we see new things every 5 or 6 minutes, so it’s tough for all manufacturers to keep up. That said, this is a major area we’re addressing right now and we’ve already done some great things like being able to send 200 locations to your navigation system via your computer or mobile device. That said, I think we can do a much better job. The key for us is integrating this technology in a seamless way which you’ll certainly see in the future.
Lenzy King via Lexus Enthusiast: The Lexus quality & recall issues over the last year coupled with fierce and more nimble competitors has shaken my once unyielding defense of brand Lexus. What does Lexus plan to do to revitalize its current owner base and bring those who are jumping ship back into the fold?
Mark Templin: Thanks for being so loyal, Lenzy. We appreciate it and to answer your question, we’re going back to our roots, which is listening to our customers (just like we are doing right now) and giving them what they want. We’ve shifted a thousand of engineers to product R&D, building tons of prototypes and ensuring we have the best quality cars in the industry.
From Club Lexus: In recent press mentions, many Lexus executives have mentioned that the company is focused on offering more sport-oriented products. From your view, what does this mean? Are there plans to offer any additional coupes?
Mark Templin: I’m an enthusiast so to me sport orientation is about much more than just 0-60 times. It’s about seating position, the steering feel, the way the suspension holds the road, crisp shifts, and even the way the steering wheel feels in your hands. You will absolutely see more of this at Lexus. As for more coupes? I’d love it!
Mark Templin: We’re getting a lot of questions about how you can’t operate the Lexus navigation system while the car is at speed. I agree that sometimes that can get frustrating. And I confess, when we used to have a convoluted override system, I enabled it in all my cars. That way I could speed down the highway while talking on the phone and operating my nav system. Not too smart. Now I love our solution to this problem…all our cars come with Lexus Enform standard where all I have to do is push a button, get an operator and say where I’m going. The operator downloads the directions directly to my nav screen. It’s safer and whole lot easier.
Nathan Gardner: Could you could describe in one word what it means to the GM of Lexus since we’re the top selling (U.S.) luxury brand?
Mark Templin: In one word? Pressure. It’s always a lot easier to vie for the lead than to maintain it.
Mark Templin: I can relate to the question asked via My.IS — Will the 3rd-generation Lexus IS offer a manual transmission in conjunction with a more powerful engine than the current IS 250?
I feel your pain. I’m an enthusiast too and would love to have stick shifts in many of our cars. However, there may not be enough people like you and me out there. We need to determine how much demand there is before we make that decision. I’ll be going to Japan soon and I’ll be sure to tell them you asked!
Steve Shutz: As a happy owner of three Lexuses over the years (’90 LS400, ’04 LX470, and ’10 LX570), I’ve enjoyed the excellent service and amenities my dealer provides. Still, I can’t help but notice that your competitors have caught up with, and in some cases surpassed, what your dealers currently offer–I’m thinking of Lincoln’s just-announced free maintenance program and Hyundai’s complimentary iPads for Equus buyers. Does Lexus have anything in the pipeline to enhance the dealer experience, either during the sales process or afterwards?
Mark Templin: Thanks for being a loyal Lexus customer. First – when they say ‘free’ maintenance, nothing is truly free. We offer many complimentary programs that are part of the Lexus heritage, including:
* Two complimentary maintenance visits
* Loaner vehicles
* 4 Years of Roadside Assistance with Trip Interruption Protection
* 1 Year of Safety Connect
* 1 Year of Lexus Enform
* 90 days of Complimentary Satellite Radio
* The list goes on….
All with an unmatched Dealer network that provides the best in dealership experience in the industry.
Lisa Liu: I’ve noticed on the IS250 AWD, there’s a lot of brake dust on my front brakes..what is the cause of that? Is there a way to fix that? I’ve never seen so much brake dust!
Mark Templin: Unfortunately it’s not abnormal for a high level of break dust to accumulate. Break dust is one of the characteristics of a high performance break system that we commonly use.
James Pyles: I understand that there isn’t a significant market for it (in the luxury category), however, I was wondering if Lexus has ever considered producing a truck?
Mark Templin: We’ve had discussions about it in the past.
Donald Sean: Hi Mark, I know you can’t reveal a lot of details, but what can we expect design wise from Lexus in the next generations? Will Lexus continue to refine and evolve the L-Finesse philosophy or will Lexus take a different direction altogether?
Mark Templin: For our future vehicles, we’re really stepping up our performance attributes and our styling will be much more passionate. I think you’ll see that we’ll be taking L-Finesse to a whole new level.
Tom Mạc: You need to hire game interaction or sci-fi movie designers to design your computer interface screens. They currently look quite cheap and cheesy.
They SHOULD look sleek like “Minority Report” and be intuitive to use while driving.
Mark Templin: Lexus was part of Minority Report and it seemed so futuristic at the time, but now it’s reality…and we’ll be a part of that. Future generations of our screens will be sci fi for sure.
And that about wraps it up — I’ll be going back over the conversation to see if I missed anything.