Lexus International president Yoshihiro Sawa shared his personal vision of the brand’s future with Australia’s Financial Review:
“Definitely the luxury market will have such a tsunami, we cannot avoid it. At the same time the luxury buyer always appreciates a very special service or product and sometimes [will] own it.
“I imagine in the future people will like to drive their own car as the main transport, commuting, on the weekend, to the airport … they would park there, then move to the other city or area, then after that will use a special share car, and accommodation.
“So we would like to provide such a total service, together with a sharing system and services. That kind of lifestyle coverage is very important. I’d like Lexus to be the luxury lifestyle brand, not the car brand.”
Sawa expands on his thoughts when discussing car ownership versus car sharing:
“Probably both,” he suggests, before discussing the idea that buying a Lexus in three or five years might make you part of a club that will cover a range of compatible services: upmarket hotels, transport, perhaps even restaurants and fine wine.
“We need to find partners that share our philosophy,” he adds. “Just selling a product is not enough. The new-wave guys like Tesla or Google, those kinds of guys are doing many kinds of things together. Those new game changers, they will be the most scary competitors.”
Electrification and autonomous technology have the power to reduce all vehicles to single base denominator, where the differences between brands will be subjective and boil down to design and consumer perception.
Lexus transitioning to an experience-driven, full-service lifestyle brand may seem ambitious, but it’s based on a pragmatic view of the future. Five years from now, it could be the only way for an auto manufacturer to survive.