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Lexus to Debut Luxury Minivan at Shanghai Motor Show?

Lexus Minivan Face

Lexus China has revealed that a new vehicle will debut at the Shanghai Motor Show next month. The announcement was accompanied by this teaser image, presented here in full resolution:

Lexus Minivan Full

The immediate thought would be an update to the RX crossover, but shortly after China’s announcement, Lexus Taiwan posted the following message on Facebook (translated):

LEXUS |THE LUXURY OF SPACE

How does Lexus jump off the limits of transportation? When the vehicle is upgraded to personal private space…for her, you can have more imagination.

That will be the present.

“Luxury of Space”. “Personal private space.” This is the kind of language used in Asian markets to sell….minivans.

Lexus is making a minivan.


Judging from the lack of announcements from other Lexus regions, this is a model that will likely be limited to China and Southeast Asia for its initial launch. This makes sense, as the popularity of minivans in these markets has grown exponentially, where they are viewed as a high-end luxury vehicle.

(This would also explain why Lexus trademarked LM 350 & LM 300h last year, as it’s most literal translation is “Luxury Minivan”.)

There’s so much to unpack here, and it’s going to require some time to process. But we have to start up the conversation — how do you feel about Lexus making a minivan?

Comments
Ian Schmidt
I'd be very surprised if the US got this, unless the buying public suddenly realizes SUVs are kinda dumb for what they're using them for and starts hoarding Siennas.
It might end up like UX in the USA - while not designed as US its core market, it is still offered.

Then again, it might be more expensive than RX, which makes sense in Asian markets, but makes no sense in the USA.
Naming it LM and making it 4th car with L - LS, LC, LX and now LM, does make it seem like it would be higher class vehicle than RX.
  • Joe
    Joe
  • March 29, 2019
:scream: I do hope for the preservation of the international brand image of Lexus that they won't present a 'facelift with Lexus sauce' version of the hideous Alphard :confounded::bomb:
spwolf
It might end up like UX in the USA - while not designed as US its core market, it is still offered.

Then again, it might be more expensive than RX, which makes sense in Asian markets, but makes no sense in the USA.
Naming it LM and making it 4th car with L - LS, LC, LX and now LM, does make it seem like it would be higher class vehicle than RX.
Agreed. Remember that the LM was actually trademarked in the USA first.
https://lexusenthusiast.com/forums/threads/lexus-trademarks-lm-350-lm-300h-nameplates-in-usa.4555/
Alphard was all-new in 2015, I think, so I wouldn't be surprised to see them base it on that vs. a new TNGA platform. If it's going to be a model for APAC-only, I feel like they'll go the route of minimal investment for things like the chassis/platform. But then again, maybe they'll want to jump to TNGA ASAP.
Gecko
Alphard was all-new in 2015, I think, so I wouldn't be surprised to see them base it on that vs. a new TNGA platform. If it's going to be a model for APAC-only, I feel like they'll go the route of minimal investment for things like the chassis/platform. But then again, maybe they'll want to jump to TNGA ASAP.
For what's supposed to be an all-new model for Lexus they had better not simply slap a Lexus badge onto the existing Alphard. I would not be terribly surprised but simply terribly disappointed if Lexus does take the cheapo route instead of properly designing a new vehicle with the TNGA platform.
Say what? where is new LX and GX? what the hell is Lexus thinking?
Deusex
Say what? where is new LX and GX? what the hell is Lexus thinking?
They don't bring as mucha money as mini van would.
Deusex
Say what? where is new LX and GX? what the hell is Lexus thinking?
They don't bring as mucha money as mini van would.
flexus
They don't bring as mucha money as mini van would.
I'm not sure that is true. GX and LX are both notorious cash cows for Lexus being based on the Land Cruiser 150 and 200 platforms. Lexus has been quoted as using the term "printing money" in relation to the GX specifically.

Profitability of this thing will depend on how much of a rebadge it is.
Deusex
Say what? where is new LX and GX? what the hell is Lexus thinking?
The 4th-gen LX is expected to enter production a bit over a year from now (summer 2020) for a 2021 model year debut.

The wait for 3rd-gen GX, on the other hand, could be significantly longer. We should expect some sort of refresh for the current 2nd-gen model this fall (2020 model year), but estimates for the debut date of the 3rd-gen GX vary wildly. It should be no earlier than autumn 2022 (2023 model year) and could be as late as the 1st quarter of 2024 (!)
Gecko
I'm not sure that is true. GX and LX are both notorious cash cows for Lexus being based on the Land Cruiser 150 and 200 platforms. Lexus has been quoted as using the term "printing money" in relation to the GX specifically.

Profitability of this thing will depend on how much of a rebadge it is.
Actually, LX is actually selling really good for them overall... GX sells well only in the USA, hence less development seen vs LX.

But LX is a real deal overall, it sells similar numbers to GL, which is considerably cheaper to start with worldwide.
ydooby
For what's supposed to be an all-new model for Lexus they had better not simply slap a Lexus badge onto the existing Alphard. I would not be terribly surprised but simply terribly disappointed if Lexus does take the cheapo route instead of properly designing a new vehicle with the TNGA platform.
and when exactly did they do that? If they base on it Alphard, it will likely get unique interior/exterior like NX did vs Rav4.
spwolf
Actually, LX is actually selling really good for them overall... GX sells well only in the USA, hence less development seen vs LX.

But LX is a real deal overall, it sells similar numbers to GL, which is considerably cheaper to start with worldwide.
Yes I am aware of this, thus my comment.
Gecko
Profitability of this thing will depend on how much of a rebadge it is.
ydooby
I would not be terribly surprised but simply terribly disappointed if Lexus does take the cheapo route instead of properly designing a new vehicle with the TNGA platform.
There is little incentive for them to jump to TNGA considering the only purpose of this model is to print money. The Alphard already is the best luxury minivan, period. The Alphard is relatively new and got its facelift last year with updated powertrains and interior. They cannot improve its competitiveness any further because there is no competitor.

We have to understand why the LM exists. This thing is targeted at the chinese market specifically, where the Alphard is a Veblen good: a luxury item that gets more popular the more expensive it gets. It reached that status because it is the best luxury minivan by a long shot. In JDM it costs between $35-55k (although there is a $150k special trim for VIP transport), but in China the MSRP is $120k and the average transaction price is $170k. Dealership add huge markups on them due to huge demand and limited supply. People who buy an Alphard would never compare it to a Mercedes V-Class, a Buick GL8 Avenir, or a Nissan Quest; they cross-shop it against Mercedes S-Class Maybach, Maserati Ghibli, and entry-level Bentleys, in which case $170k is a bargain. Even at such ridiculous prices they sold over one thousand of these a month, more than the LS, LX, and LC combined.

The LM will be the profit maximization machine for them, so they will do whatever they can to reduce costs. They could already command a ridiculous premium without a TNGA update because it is already the best. Let's just forget this stupidity and look at the bright side: it will be so profitable that it will pay for R&D for all their F models in the future.
Joaquin Ruhi
The 4th-gen LX is expected to enter production a bit over a year from now (summer 2020) for a 2021 model year debut.

The wait for 3rd-gen GX, on the other hand, could be significantly longer. We should expect some sort of refresh for the current 2nd-gen model this fall (2020 model year), but estimates for the debut date of the 3rd-gen GX vary wildly. It should be no earlier than autumn 2022 (2023 model year) and could be as late as the 1st quarter of 2024 (!)
What a joke. 2024? That's essentially a 14-15 year life cycle. I haven't heard of anything that long bar the Mercedes-Benz Geländewagen and the Land Rover Defender. The Toyota Tundra (once it gets released in 2020 has a 1 year shorter cycle). Insane.
Yes please! These luxury vans are an alternative to limos in asia. Who wouldn't like a fully reclined business class lounge with all the bells and whistles and still have enough space for the assistant in the front seat?
F1 Silver Arrows
What a joke. 2024? That's essentially a 14-15 year life cycle. I haven't heard of anything that long bar the Mercedes-Benz Geländewagen and the Land Rover Defender. The Toyota Tundra (once it gets released in 2020) has a 1 year shorter cycle. Insane.
Yes, but that's what they are ridiculously doing. Someone just gave a claim that the 2020 RX arrives in August and GX in September 2019. Something tells me they could be credible...at least this time.

Just like the Prado situation 2 years ago, just because I heard about a GX facelift coming, I assumed it extended to the US market 4Runner and let some Toyota affiliated engineers mislead me on that, despite them not even having direct access to the N280 life-cycle clearly.

I feel very stupid for that, as it's quite an embarrassment and hurt my credibility.:pensive: Anyway, I am very confident that the GX is definitely getting another facelift this year. Weirdly enough, maybe that annoying tidbit I dismissed about a 2021 4Runner change up, has some validity. But why deviate from the 150-Series set? All are built in Japan, so it doesn't make sense how in late 2017 Prado got a refresh, then GX in late summer 2019, then 4Runner only gets some safety tech for MY 2020? I digress.
When it comes to GX, the people I know with good information laugh at the term "refresh" and put it in air quotes. I think it will be similar to 4Runner - just a tech addition (bigger screen, Android Auto, CarPlay, Alexa) with possibly no sheetmetal change whatsoever.

Anyway, back to the minivan.
I like Road Show by CNet's commentary on the Lexus Enthusiast "Minivan at Shanghai" news story:

Lexus rumored to be readying a luxury minivan for Shanghai, report says
Minivans are big business in SE Asia, so could Lexus be looking to get in on that game with a fancy people-mover of its own?
BY KYLE HYATT
MARCH 29, 2019

Here in the US, the minivan has started to fall by the wayside, relegated to its place in history as the butt of lazy jokes, as the SUV becomes the de facto family hauler. In China, however, that's not the case.

That's why when Lexus announced that it would be debuting a new vehicle at the Shanghai Auto Show next month, it got some folks thinking that rather than a new RX or GX, maybe it would be a real deal, no B.S. luxury Lexus minivan.

No, wait, stop laughing. We're serious.

The folks over at Lexus Enthusiast convinced us. See, not long after the brand made its teaser announcement for Shanghai, the Lexus Taiwan Facebook page posted some cryptic text talking about "Luxury of personal space" and so on, language which -- as Lexus Enthusiast points out -- is regularly used to sell minivans in Southeast Asia.

It's like the people of China and SE Asia saw Get Shorty back in 1995 and took the whole idea of "Cadillac of minivans" thing to heart. The boxy people-conveyers aren't just sold to harried parents there, they are seen as real luxury vehicles for people with means and taste.

This idea of a Lexus minivan makes even more sense when you consider the fact that Toyota has intimated that we could see a brand new Sienna on a new platform by 2021. An announcement of a new luxury van now means that its release could coincide with that refresh.

Obviously, this is all a bunch of wild, tinfoil hat-wearing, bicycle conversation in A Scanner Darkly-style crazy speculation, but wouldn't it be kind of cool?

Lexus didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.
https://www.cnet.com/roadshow/news/lexus-minivan-shanghai-auto-show-rumor/
ssun30
The Alphard already is the best luxury minivan, period. The Alphard is relatively new and got its facelift last year with updated powertrains and interior. They cannot improve its competitiveness any further because there is no competitor.....
keep in mind there are still ways to improve Alphard, even if competition doesnt have anything better... Lexus should be way nicer.

F1 Silver Arrows
What a joke. 2024? That's essentially a 14-15 year life cycle. I haven't heard of anything that long bar the Mercedes-Benz Geländewagen and the Land Rover Defender. The Toyota Tundra (once it gets released in 2020) has a 1 year shorter cycle. Insane.
You forgot the Mitsubishi Pajero.
Levi
You forgot the Mitsubishi Pajero.
And almost every other Mitsubishis currently on sale, also certain Nissans, coincidentally both of them are now partners.
Levi
You forgot the Mitsubishi Pajero.
Toyota is not Mitsubishi by any means, at least for now

But with they stubborn late future schedule and keep postponing everything they may face the same fate

Tundra
Seqouia
Land cruiser 200
LX
Prado
GX
4 Runner
GS
Mark X

All with 10+ years and they need every single car in this list
This has got to be the ugliest front end ever. Looks like a bloated Cadillac grill.
Mr. Pontiac
This has got to be the ugliest front end ever. Looks like a bloated Cadillac grill.
Even Cadillac never fell this low and we haven’t seen what a mess the spindle grill could add. If it’s not real careful, Lexus could come out of this with a blow to its style/performance image so carefully cultivated over the last decade.
GSCT
Even Cadillac never fell this low and we haven’t seen what a mess the spindle grill could add. If it’s not real careful, Lexus could come out of this with a blow to its style/performance image so carefully cultivated over the last decade.
So Lexus China should not offer a minivan that Chinese people want to buy, because you in USA or me in Europe think minivans are not cool?
spwolf
So Lexus China should not offer a minivan that Chinese people want to buy, because you in USA or me in Europe think minivans are not cool?
Well, I know it sounds arrogant, but basically yes. I can’t imagine we will ever see a BMW or Audi minivan.
GSCT
Well, I know it sounds arrogant, but basically yes. I can’t imagine we will ever see a BMW or Audi minivan.
There has been bmw minivan for years, as well as MB minivan.

S
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