I posted last year that I expected Lexus to eventually go to an ES-LS sedan strategy, and that the death of the GS was bad for the IS because of R&D/manufacturing efficiencies. Many of you disagreed with me and said that was foolish, which it might have seemed at the time. I also posted recently that the future as a Lexus enthusiast is accepting the reality of who Lexus is now, and not expecting them to be who they were ten or fifteen years ago. That's a bit of a painful transition, but not doing so is setting yourself up for disappointment and anger. The execution and reception of this IS are interesting to me based on these two points.
We know Lexus has a way of fulfilling their own predetermined destiny for certain models:
1. Introduce a product that is half-baked and fundamentally lacking some competitive advantage (a reflection of slashed R&D budgets to begin with).
2. During the lifecycle, do not fully invest in said product to bring it up to par with competitors.
3. Remove or reduce advertising support.
4. Watch sales dwindle.
5. Explain that because of low sales, said vehicle is a waste of resources and those buyers are either non-essential to the brand or can be covered with a different model.
6. Cancel the vehicle in question.
Or put simply: Not invest, neglect, nix.
Pulling the IS out of global markets and saying that the ES sells in higher volume... does that sound similar?
An extended lifecycle with no new or uncompetitive powertrains... seems like I've seen this before?
Unsubstantiated rumors about a next generation when it's clear that the current one is on life support... deja vu?
Lexus has had the last 8+ years to plan and develop a new 4IS, and they didn't. And they didn't even bother to add a new engine, or some new trick technology. You will see this a week from today. The extended lifecycle and lack of investment in the IS is bad enough, but if you really think they're going to pull it out of markets like UK, the EU and China, then miraculously bring it back as a BEV in 3 years, I have a bridge to sell you. Product management just doesn't work like that.
I admire the optimism that some of you have, and I also understand those of you making the business case about profitability. But with profitability, there also has to be pride and pioneering. Think about where Lexus would be if they never had products like the IS, GS and SC. Would you even be here? I wouldn't.
Think about a lineup of ES, LS, UX, NX, RX, GX, LX and LC. Think think about Acura and Infiniti, who are also down to one or two sedans. Something about Japanese culture has fundamentally ruined their luxury brands, and I can't quite put my finger on it. Conservatism? Lack of willingness to take risk? Gun shy after the 2009 financial collapse and then the 2011 tsunamis? Acura and Infiniti never got off the ground like Lexus, so seeing them fall and struggle hasn't been as bad, but Lexus' fall is both hard to watch and understand after such incredible success in the 90s and early 00s.
Yes, they're expanding globally and selling more cars than they were before for that reason, but it's clear there is no direction, no plan, no sense of identity and no appreciation for what made them great in the first place.