JapanRumors

Lexus Luxury Minivan to Start Production in 2020

Lexus Minivan Face

As further proof Lexus plans to reveal a luxury minivan at the Shanghai Motor Show, the Chubu Keizai newspaper in Nagoya has reported that production of the new vehicle is slated for next year — from the translated article:

The company will start mass production in 2020 at its subsidiary Toyota Auto Body Inabe Factory (Inabe City). First of all, export and sales to China and Asia are expected.

In China and Asia, the popularity of large minivans, especially among wealthy people, is overheating. While responding quickly to the spread of demand, it intends to further enhance its brand image by introducing highly competitive products.

Toyota Auto Body is responsible for producing all Toyota vans sold overseas, including the Alphard luxury minivan that should share its underpinnings with the new Lexus version.

Lexus Alphard

Comments
amoschen7
MPV might not be a hot topic these days but Alphard is a big hit in east and Southeast Asia. And it is even considered a legit replacement of Mercedes S class in business environment. I’m not sure how would the US middle class think of a Lexus version of Alphard? Will you consider buying one for family?
it was discussed few years back when MPVs were popular and Lexus said they were not doing it... also that Mercedes thing failed too.

Now with MPVs not being that popular anymore, it is not going to happen.
Indeed, just over 4 years ago, Hans Griemel of Automotive News wrote a widely-quoted report on Asian Lexus dealers' clamor for a Lexus-branded luxury van. Lexus Enthusiast posted its own commentary article. Given the time elapsed from the original post, forum commentary is no longer available. Also worth noting is that Autoblog's commentary piece included a survey on how readers felt about the subject. Alas, survey results are no longer visible.

As spwolf noted above, Lexus executives nixed the idea, and the Mercedes R-Class' failure outside of China surely didn't help matters.
The Alphard is already very dominant in the VIP transport segment. Although I like the idea of a Lexus-badged Alphard, it won't add anything new. They have to make a business case of whether this Lexus MPV will attract customers outside of East Asia, and the answer is unfortunately no.

Stanced Alphards and Vellfires are an eyesore that litter the streets of Hong Kong and Shenzhen. Imagine that with a spindle grille...
Joaquin Ruhi
Indeed, just over 4 years ago, Hans Griemel of Automotive News wrote a widely-quoted report on Asian Lexus dealers' clamor for a Lexus-branded luxury van. Lexus Enthusiast posted its own commentary article. Given the time elapsed from the original post, forum commentary is no longer available. Also worth noting is that Autoblog's commentary piece included a survey on how readers felt about the subject. Alas, survey results are no longer visible.

As spwolf noted above, Lexus executives nixed the idea, and the Mercedes R-Class' failure outside of China surely didn't help matters.
yea, I was really curious why did Mercedes R class failed. It is basically a ML class with more room and lower price. Maybe people are just too fascinated with the idea of a SUV?
spwolf
it was discussed few years back when MPVs were popular and Lexus said they were not doing it... also that Mercedes thing failed too.

Now with MPVs not being that popular anymore, it is not going to happen.
Yes, you are right in MPV not being a popular type anymore, but I’m thinking of it because it seemed more and more 7 seat SUVs are introduced around the world. And it makes sense to me that a MPV has better accessibility to the 3rd row than a SUV.
ssun30
The Alphard is already very dominant in the VIP transport segment. Although I like the idea of a Lexus-badged Alphard, it won't add anything new. They have to make a business case of whether this Lexus MPV will attract customers outside of East Asia, and the answer is unfortunately no.

Stanced Alphards and Vellfires are an eyesore that litter the streets of Hong Kong and Shenzhen. Imagine that with a spindle grille...
Maybe east Asia itself could justify a market? Like ES was introduced only in USA? Will Sienna buyer consider a upbuy?
amoschen7
Maybe east Asia itself could justify a market? Like ES was introduced only in USA? Will Sienna buyer consider a upbuy?
Like I've said it won't add anything new. The Alphard has that niche locked down and is already sold with a ridiculous mark-up. Changing to a Lexus badge will not have any effect whatsoever. Introducing a new name could even be counterproductive. Alphard is THE luxury VIP transport.

Unless you are proposing a low-end Alphard/high-end Lexus duo strategy to let the Alphard compete against say the Buick GL8 Avenir, Nissan Quest, or the MB V260 for more volume. But it just seems that Toyota is comfortable with occupying the top and let others fight in the less profitable segment.

Sienna buyers will not consider an Alphard since the two aren't really comparable. The Alphard competes against luxury sedans and SUVs. And it's very very obvious whether American business people are going to choose a van over a SUV.
What Lexus should offer instead is a competitor to the B-Class and the 2-series GT, both of which offer tons of room in a compact car, well suited to the needs of the European and Asian markets.
amoschen7
Maybe east Asia itself could justify a market? Like ES was introduced only in USA? Will Sienna buyer consider a upbuy?
I thought that the ES was originally launched in Japan as the Toyota Windom, much like the LS was the Celsior.
The original ES was based on the Camry Prominent aka Toyota Vista, which was sold in Japan prior to Lexus being announced at the '89 NAIAS. Second-gen rolled it out in Japan as the "Windom", and of course the "ES" called the "ES" didn't exist in Japan until Lexus was rolled out there.
I'm actually privy to come cool info in the van market through Toyota and working with Vankulture a bit. They are a van based car club I've been associated with since day one.

What I can share is Toyota was shocked at the ATP people were paying for Sienna's and even more shocked at the people who modify them. We are talking spending 50k on a Toyota Sienna then adding another 10k in modifications.

Here is the production we did together with Toyota's backing...



The behind the scenes explains a bit of the thinking behind some of these people



Without a doubt a Lexus van would sell if they made it.

As for the Alphard I've had some time in them in Japan and they are amazing. I just don't see the styling working here in the USA.
ydooby
What Lexus should offer instead is a competitor to the B-Class and the 2-series GT, both of which offer tons of room in a compact car, well suited to the needs of the European and Asian markets.
Is B class popular in Europe? I personally only spotted once on the street in China
mikeavelli
I'm actually privy to come cool info in the van market through Toyota and working with Vankulture a bit. They are a van based car club I've been associated with since day one.

What I can share is Toyota was shocked at the ATP people were paying for Sienna's and even more shocked at the people who modify them. We are talking spending 50k on a Toyota Sienna then adding another 10k in modifications.

Here is the production we did together with Toyota's backing...



The behind the scenes explains a bit of the thinking behind some of these people



Without a doubt a Lexus van would sell if they made it.

As for the Alphard I've had some time in them in Japan and they are amazing. I just don't see the styling working here in the USA.
Video is nicely done! Is that considered VIP style modification? I’m curious if there is a racing style too. You know, Mercedes offered a R class AMG:eek: how crazy is that!
Ian Schmidt
The original ES was based on the Camry Prominent aka Toyota Vista, which was sold in Japan prior to Lexus being announced at the '89 NAIAS. Second-gen rolled it out in Japan as the "Windom", and of course the "ES" called the "ES" didn't exist in Japan until Lexus was rolled out there.
That's mostly correct, except that Lexus ES as such has never been sold in Japan, even after the Japanese Lexus rollout in 2005. "ES" was sold in Japan as the Toyota Windom from 2nd thru 4th generations. For 5th and outgoing 6th generations, Lexus ES was still built in Japan but never sold domestically. It seems that the upcoming 7ES will be the first-ever ES-badged Lexus sold in Japan.
amoschen7
Video is nicely done! Is that considered VIP style modification? I’m curious if there is a racing style too. You know, Mercedes offered a R class AMG:eek: how crazy is that!
Thanks. Some of the vans are VIP Inspired yes. Some of these guys put some serious money into modifying their vans. The R63 is as rare as it gets. That and the regular R-Class seems to have found a nice market of people looking for them. Maybe it was too early to debut, today it might find more success.
mikeavelli
The R63 is as rare as it gets. That and the regular R-Class seems to have found a nice market of people looking for them. Maybe it was too early to debut, today it might find more success.
Exactly. I was always a huge fan of the Mercedes R-Class and never understood why it was such a flop outside China. As Mike says, perhaps it was too far ahead of its time and might have been more successful today.
R Class was a much better car than M Class, which I view as a neither this nor that compromise, of an R Class and a G Class.
Levi
R Class was a much better car than M Class, which I view as a neither this nor that compromise, of an R Class and a G Class.
I won’t comment on the build quality or mechanics of R class but the interior is a shame for luxury car today. It feels very plastic
amoschen7
I won’t comment on the build quality or mechanics of R class but the interior is a shame for luxury car today. It feels very plastic
It was the same as the M Class, or any Mercedes of that generation.
I have not paid attention to the discussion in this thread. A Lexus MPV/van is possible, but on what would it be based? From a marketing perspective it would be tough to sell one that is badged Lexus. I do not know how a Lexus badged Trundra would do. And MPV/vans are different between countries. In Asia we see the vans being a lot smaller and being car based, rather than heavy duty. In Europe however, vans that sell as premium/luxury are not MPVs with a luxury/premium badge. The are usually proper medium duty vans with luxury interiors and features and sell for up to € 80K. These are the VW Transporter and Mercedes V Class, but they are still utility based vehicles. Unlike pick-up trucks, that are gaining traction in Europe, vans catering long ago to such a market (VIP shuttles), have not yet gained mainstream attention. Toyota's van, co-developed with PSA, can't successfully be Lexus-ified. Overall, I do not think a Lexus MPV/van can be made successful, but a sub-brand is possible, however it would have to be marketed regionally rather than internationally. The only 'luxury' MPV in Europe, and quite successful in France is the new Renault Espace. Unfortunately it lacks AWD, and it has no sliding rear doors, a must IMO for luxury vans or any vehicle claiming to be people and cargo practical.

In the US, a Lexus based on the Sienna could be possible and fit the brand, being car based rather than utility, but in the US vans do not seem to have any market at all, being outclassed by CUVs/SUVs in the car market, and by trucks even in the utility market.
@Levi

The answer is very simple. It will be based on the Alphard. The Alphard is purpose-built for VIP transport so no delivery van- or family van-based vehicle can match its comfort. I've sat in the captain chairs in both the Alphard and the V-Class, and the ride quality isn't even close. The delivery van nature of the V-class shows its ugly face on low quality roads, and both the gasoline and diesel variants have rough engines that are underpowered.

The only problem with the Alphard is that it's very tall which limits practicality. Its 1.9m height becomes a problem in a lot of underground parking lots. But that's mostly because it needed clearance for wheelchair access, since the Alphard is very often used to transport seniors and disabled people in Japan. The Lexus version could easily rectify this problem by lowering the roof to 1.8m.
Seems to reinforce Lexus' registering the "LM" series trade marks.
Not at all surprising, to be honest. Lexus could capitalise on Toyota's expertise in making minivans and people movers. Such a model could be successful in the Asian markets. But the difficulty, in my view, would be for Lexus to differentiate its eventual product from Toyota's offerings. The Alphard and Vellfire are already extremely luxurious. Lexus really has its work cut out.
Actually, if you read the trademark tea leaves, maybe the idea of a Lexus minivan may not be so far-fetched. As noted both here and on my Kaizen Factor blog, Toyota's latest seemingly Lexus-related trademarks are LQ (with no numbers attached), LM 300h and LM 350. What if LQ is for the production version of the LF-1 Limitless RWD-based crossover and LM 300h and LM 350 are for a GA-K platform Lexus minivan offshoot of the upcoming 4th-gen Toyota Sienna?
So I am true LM is the minivan LQ is the LF-1 production unit
maiaramdan
So I am true LM is the minivan LQ is the LF-1 production unit
That's all just educated guesswork and possibility, and not anything Lexus has officially confirmed.
Joaquin Ruhi
What if LQ is for the production version of the LF-1 Limitless RWD-based crossover
Toyota registering characters that seemingly conform with Lexus nomenclature really says nothing. I would always be careful when speculating. I have mentioned extensively a couple of times on these forums that letter-only registrations have not been used for at least 7 or 8 years now. It's likely that Toyota has other internal uses for these trademarks. Trade marks for Lexus models, if you look on TMView, Lexus model names of current times are always registered in "XX ###" format.

While LQ could be the production LF-1, my personal thought is that it is merely probable, rather than possible.
mwyf
Toyota registering characters that seemingly conform with Lexus nomenclature really says nothing. I would always be careful when speculating. I have mentioned extensively a couple of times on these forums that letter-only registrations have not been used for at least 7 or 8 years now. It's likely that Toyota has other internal uses for these trademarks. Trade marks for Lexus models, if you look on TMView, Lexus model names of current times are always registered in "XX ###" format.

While LQ could be the production LF-1, my personal thought is that it is merely probable, rather than possible.
You're right. I agree. We're on the same page on this.

Every time I discover a relevant new trademark and write a Kaizen Factor commentary piece, I'm careful to couch the article as informed speculation, rather than anything officially confirmed. You're even more correct about the slimmer likelihood of two letter-only Lexus-style trademarks without a 3-digit number seeing the light of day on a production vehicle. Note how I ended my Kaizen Factor piece on the LQ trademark:

Could LQ ultimately wind up in the trademark graveyard?
As we have done so often in the past, we remind you that the registration of a trademark is no guarantee of its eventual, actual use. And Lexus’ crossover-centric prefixes are particularly vulnerable. We have seen VX, JX and TX allowed to lapse and die unused. Might LQ, perhaps, see the same fate?
M
Hmmmmm, maybe my wife will finally buy a minivan.... :cool:
gotta admit some of those minivans sold in Japan are actually pretty cool looking. Not sure if the American market is ready for them.
meteoro
Hmmmmm, maybe my wife will finally buy a minivan.... :cool:
gotta admit some of those minivans sold in Japan are actually pretty cool looking. Not sure if the American market is ready for them.
If your wife's mentality is anything like I remember, you're going to have an uphill battle convincing her to drive a minivan, Lexus badge or not... :p

J
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