In a Q&A with journalists last month, Lexus president Koji Sato spoke at length about the brand’s upcoming shift to pure-electric vehicles. The entire interview also features Toyota president Akio Toyota and is worth reading, but let’s highlight some key Sato quotes on Lexus’ transition.
We will clarify the role of the Lexus brand within the company, which is to be a front runner in advanced technology areas and to lead our BEV products.
The announcement that Lexus would become an EV-only brand by 2030 marks a radical departure for the brand, perhaps even too radical. With such a massive shift in strategy, nearly everything about Lexus will change. This quote from Sato confirms that Lexus management is prepared to make hard decisions — models may be cancelled, customers not ready for EV may move elsewhere, but Lexus is moving straight forward.
BEVs use electricity and electric motors for wonderful responsiveness with smooth acceleration and deceleration, and quietness. This is something internal combustion engines don’t have.
Especially in the luxury segment, customers are looking for acceleration. Electric motors may be able to offer greater performance that engines cannot.
I actually think the time has come now. We spent about 10 years under the Master Driver Toyoda, going through tough trials to improve our cars. We’ve been trying to figure out what makes a Toyota or Lexus car unique.
It took 10 years for us to come up with a BEV which can make Akio Toyoda smile a little, finally. I think BEVs are a catalyst for making cars more fun and enjoyable. In particular, electrification technologies are very effective in controlling the vehicle’s driving power.
So, believing that BEVs will give us an opportunity for a more exciting future, Lexus is going to shift toward BEVs.
Given the out-of-nowhere vibe of this announcement and Akio Toyota’s well-known skepticism of pure-electric cars, there was a worry that this switch was an abrupt (and purely financial) decision — instead, it appears that new developments has finally spurred Toyota to change his stance. And that, to me, is maybe the most exciting aspect of all — has Akio Toyota finally warmed to the Lexus brand?