Lexus Aims to Redefine Global Brand Image as Sportier, Greener

Most people view Lexus as a conservative luxury brand, building cushy, understated cars and SUVs. Lexus aims to change this image to give the idea of progressive luxury over the next few years.

To Lexus, progressive luxury means smart luxury -- where a brand’s social responsibility and green image count as much as, if not more than, engine power and raw performance. The basic idea behind redefining the Lexus brand as a progressive luxury brand is to unify its global image as the brand has now expanded around the world. Lexus got its start in the U.S., where it became the best-selling luxury brand -- a position it’s retained for ten years now.

“There was a need to make sure we were all on the same page,” Karl Schlicht, general manager in charge of global Lexus marketing and product planning, told Automotive News. “It’s very simple when you have one market. You have multiple regions now -- like Europe wanting one direction, Japan another, and China coming on. That gets more complicated.”

As part of the progressive luxury movement, Lexus plans on introducing more expressive and daring designs, more hybrids, more F Sport vehicles and F Sport packages, and furthering the use of advanced electronics. Additionally, Lexus is considering tapping into new market niches as it just did with the new CT 200h that broke into the entry-level luxury segment.

First up on Lexus’ sporty additions list are the new CT 200h and RX crossover. The CT 200h F Sport was unveiled last month at the Australian International Motor Show and features a revised powertrain and suspension along with a few exterior modifications. There’s no word on just what’s in store for the RX F Sport, but Schlicht does say that all F Sport packages will feature a specially tuned or completely different engine to transform the car into a “real sports car in every sense of the word.”

On the new model front, Lexus’ top priority is to replace its SC coupe that was discontinued this past July. We’ve learned from insiders that it’s likely to be an all-wheel-drive, luxury, hybrid sports coupe producing some 500 horsepower. The car will reportedly ride on the next-generation LS platform and will be known as the LC. So long as the economy cooperates, we can expect to see it around 2015, according to an inside source.

Other possible new models include SUV variants, but Schlicht left us to speculate as to just what type of SUV variants. “There are new segments developing as we speak, segments within segments,” said Schlicht. Our guess is he’s referring the new sports-coupe/SUV segment occupied by the likes of BMW’s X6 and Acura’s ZDX. Schlicht did however, confirm that creating a luxury car smaller than the CT 200h, which would compete with the likes of Audi’s A1, is extremely unlikely.

Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)

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