The Lexus UK blog has an insightful interview with Tokuo Fukuichi, the president of Lexus International — here he is talking about the brand’s current design direction:
Within the premium brands, there are the German three: Mercedes, BMW, and Audi. We have to consider how Lexus should position itself against the German three. So I think to myself – what would make Europeans buy Lexus?
If it were similar to the German three I wouldn’t buy Lexus if I were a German, I would buy [a product from] one of the German three. The only way I would choose to buy Lexus is if the brand had something that the German three didn’t have. So of course there are multiple aspects, hybrids for example. The new technology is important, but the design especially. It has to be something that is original and unique and has character, something that gives a raison d’etre for Lexus.
Fukuichi-san also shares an interesting story about the NX design:
When we decided on the design for the NX, which was over two years ago, there were three ideas that we looked at. The one we chose wasn’t the best idea at that point but we developed it. My selection criterion was that I wanted to go a different direction than the German three, so while it might not have been yet complete we still had time [to refine it], so I focused more on the originality aspect.
Of course the other ideas scored higher, but if we produced a car along that line then we would have come up with a car that was quite similar to the German three. I intentionally rejected those ideas and chose the idea that was very similar to the original NX that you see. At the point of selection, which was over two years ago, if I had selected the lowest risk design at that time, two years later it would have become the highest risk item.
The full interview is definitely a worthwhile read, bringing some well-deserved attention to the man steering the Lexus ship.