By on November 11, 2014

2014 Lexus CT200

While American premium brands Cadillac and Lincoln look to the Germans for inspiration — and their places on the podium — Lexus Europe chief Alain Uyttenhoven proclaimed that the Teutonic Trinity — BMW, Mercedes and Audi — were “impossible” to beat on a global scale, settling for fourth if possible.

According to Just-Auto, Uyttenhoven says the parent company is “out of its adolescence,” a turbulent time that included taking a one-two combo from the Great Recession and the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. Global sales prior to the occurrences topped out at 518,000 in 2007, with 2013 sales hitting a new peak of 523,000 units sold. That figure is just a quarter of what Audi aims to sell by 2020.

He adds that after establishing a reputation for high quality, customer service and environmental responsibility, Lexus will now focus on “emotion.” Thus, more high-performance vehicles with better driving dynamics, and likely more Predator grills. Diesels in Europe, on the other hand, will need more work:

The next big discussion will be about particulates. CO2 is not behind us, but we have to go to 99g/km by 2020. So, diesel has been growing because that CO2 average is easier to achieve with diesel. But the cost of purifying a diesel car is going to rise, so in the future, these engines are going to cost a lot more… For us, [petrol] hybrid is the answer.

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81 Comments on “Lexus Europe Boss: Teutonic Trinity “Impossible” To Beat...”


  • avatar
    Hummer

    Not hard to beat the euro trio at there own game, offer non-poverty sized engines for less than the premium charged by said trio.

    But let’s be honest, what does luxury offer today? More electronics to go bad? The engineering is no longer the prevalent selling factor, rather the $.20 emblem and the amount of Chinese quality electronics that can be fit into the space of a coffin sized car.

    If Nissan and Toyota can blow out Altimas and camry’s for 16k on year end sales, Lexus can sell FWD V6 Camry copies for 25k.
    Part interchangeability has become good in the wrong places and bad in the right places.(K2xx SUV)
    No one can beat the euros playing by euro rules, everyone wants to, but it needs to stop.
    Lexus has no historical calling and should take full advantage of exploiting that to find the brands calling.
    BMW, Mercedes, they have no general high sale brands to pad them, they have the advantage of not having a lower brand that competes on pricing.
    Whose going to buy a Cadillac that is priced 15,000 more than it should with reasoning of the pricing strategies at Chevrolet?

    Why buy an XTS when the SS offers more for less?

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      I see what you’re trying to say, but you’re a little misguided.

      There is no Lexus Camry copy. The ES is on the Avalon platform now – this isn’t news.

      The XTS and SS are not cross-shopped because they aren’t similar, and they’re not the same car. One’s a stretchy Impala and the other is a Holden. Very different missions.

      “BMW, Mercedes, they have no general high sale brands to pad them, they have the advantage of not having a lower brand that competes on pricing.”

      What? This is why they’re reaching ever-lower with things like the GLK and the 1-Series.

      “(K2xx SUV)”

      What?

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        Wasn’t sure if they still made a Camry copy, but that doesn’t change the point, a fullsize car isn’t much more expensive to build.
        Maybe they aren’t crossshopped, but the SS is a much better Cadillac than the XTS.

        Exactly if they’re reaching lower it should point the rest of the industry in a new direction.

        Either attack with real luxury, quality.
        Or attack with price.
        A 2 liter ATS is a 22k car on a good day, and the V6 isn’t worth much more in that car.

    • 0 avatar
      Richard Chen

      FWIW, Lexus never sold the ES in Europe. The badge engineered Toyota Windom was sold in Japan, but the ES isn’t available there, either.

      The Lexus EU site has: CT, IS, RC, GS, LS, NX, RX

    • 0 avatar
      50merc

      Hummer, you’ve written Comment of the Week. “the space of a coffin sized car” LOL!
      I’d like to see Lexus offer a classically luxurious car: a tall car with a big formal-look greenhouse and a back seat that’s the best in the house. The kind of car that says it’s a car for VIPs with a chauffeur up front. The kind of car that might carry little flags on the front.

    • 0 avatar
      matador

      Luxury isn’t what it used to be.

      Now, a new Mazda will have more bells and whistles than a 10 year old Audi A6 will.

      It’s a question of how much people need, and how much they’ll pay. A Toyota is much better value than a Lexus, and the Avalon is no slouch in the gizmos department.

    • 0 avatar
      hgrunt

      Also don’t forget branding. The European car companies are extremely good at defining and marketing their brand message. I believe the 3 european car companies also rank among some of the best-known brands in the world as well.

      It’s only until now that Lexus has decided they needed a design studio and for all of their cars to have something in common beyond the Lexus badge.

      The study should also consider that some of these companies have some competitive advantages, such as being owned partly by the state they’re in, etc.

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    As long as journalists and enthusiasts define “premium/luxury car” as “BMW/MB/Audi” then yes, it’s hard to beat BMW/MB/Audi at being BMW/MB/Audi.

    Problem is, this ignores the stupid-high pricing of the Germans (if you don’t take their ultra-subsidized leases) and ignores the half-baked long-term reliability that isn’t a concern to those who don’t have the car any longer than a week (press car) or 3 years (lease).

    Those of us who chose to buy something else because “lease it for three years and drive it 35k miles” doesn’t fit into our lifestyles will continue to be told our cars are inferior, even though we’d be stupid to buy (not lease) a new German with the intent of piling on the mileage for 5-8 years.

    • 0 avatar
      SatelliteView

      Geeee, I wonder why those 3-year leases are so good on these half-backed products…. Must be a good residual value…. And this good residual value is a grand conspiracy of course…. If only they’d ask rural folk from small in-land towns of USA, they are the smartest, most observable people ever.

      And to other ultra-wise individuals talking about $22k cars as if its still 1998, and currency value is static

      Hey, my 1993 Merc 400e was $53k when new, whereas the new V8 E-class starts at $60k+ and has a “worse” quality and reliability. Except that $53k k in 1993 is $93k in 2014 dollars… GERMANS WENT DOWN IN ACTUAL PRICES OVER THEYEARS

      “Hey, is it ignorance? I dont know and I dont care”

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        That might be only half the story.

        How often do those cars return to American roads after those leases are up? I don’t see a lot of old BWWs on US highways.

        I started to wonder about this, and a few Google searches suggested that off-lease American BMWs are shipped overseas and sold/leased to customers in Latin America and Russia.

        It makes sense that they would maximize theeconomic value of the car thin way, because used BMWs have a pretty lousy reputation in the US, and because I don’t see the cars on the road, I don’t see a lot of those cars on the used market. I can imagine that an aspiring 3rd world oligarch would be be willing to pay more for a used BMW that most American used car buyers. I can also imagine that parts and labor could be made more affordable in those markets, too.

        But, I haven’t been able to verify any this to my satisfaction. If it were true, though, I can see why the dealers and manufacturers wouldn’t want to draw attention to this aspect of their brand’s value proposition.

        • 0 avatar
          Luke42

          Oh, and I see lots of old Lexi running around.

          Some of them are in pretty good shape, too!

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          I see BMWs all the way back to the 80s every day, in multiple. I suspect you are not looking very hard, or you live in a place where BMWs are just not common. Some may get exported, but I doubt very many.

          One thing that certainly happens is a lot of used BMWs from sunnier climes end up in the Northeast to replace those that rot out up here, and to just meet the demand for them. Same with Saabs, Volvos, and all the other cars that are still sought after when they are 10-15 years old or more. Nobody bothers to transport 10yo Corollas, but they send BMWs, Volvos, and Saabs by the truckload. Certainly they are 10x as many used versions of these cars here as were ever sold here new. Portland ME may have more Saabs per capita than Trollhatten. Lexi are very thin on the ground however, as they were never popular here. Acuras are pretty non-existant too.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            It is pretty rare for me to see ANY car from the 1980s in my daily driving. Maybe like 10 a week.

            I don’t even remember the last time I saw an E32, E23, or Z3. I do live in Florida, so maybe they got moved up north like you were saying.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            e23s and e32s were very rare cars to start with. That would be the first two generations of the 7-series for those not up on BMW-speak. I rarely see those either. Or the newer generations – the local dealer doesn’t sell double-digit quantities of them a year. It’s just not that sort of area.

            But no shortage of e30s, e28s, e36s, e39s, and e46s around here. e30s ARE getting noticeably less common, not surprising given the newest of them are 20, and most are at least 23. But still a daily sight. Z3s are all over the place, WAY more common than Z4s, which are too new to be popular here. Mainers are like Internet car forum denizens, they love their expensive cars second-hand.

          • 0 avatar
            Luke42

            @krhodes:
            I used to see quite a few of the 80s BMWs. What I don’t see is any of the 2nd most recent generation of BMWs.

            I live it a college town, so we see a lot of cars that are the 2nd most necent generation form most brands: the car that was good enough to keep owning, but mom or dad wanted in upgrade anyway — so they send their kid to college with the older car. And I do see those cars from Luxus, Audi, and the mainstream brands.

            I see new BMWs with LED headlights and the most recent body style every day on my way to work and especially at the preschool where my son goes. What I don’t see are any BMWs living the life of the a
            out-of-warranty 10 year old Toyota workhorse I drive*.

            * I could afford new, and in one of those luxury brands. I’m just not sold on the value proposition, unless there’s technology under the hood that I can’t buy on the used market. So, I keep owning and driving used Toyotas. I’ll probably reserve a Tesla Model 3 when they go on sale, though – that’s something where Toyota doesn’t have an analagous model wtich costs less and lasts longer.

  • avatar
    raresleeper

    Lexus doesn’t fuel “emotion” like a Mercedes. Or a Bimmer. Never will.

    You know who gets emotional about the Germans? Non-enthusiasts. Non-car people. They see that roundel or three-pointed star and they just get giddy.

    That little blonde chick who’s the dental assistant. The millennial who just completed his law degree.

    These folks are buying the Germans because there is emotion tied along with them. But their parents are the ones buying Lexus and such.

    Automotive enthusiasts know what the great values are out there. Unfortunately, there’s a hell of a lot more non-enthusiasts out there than there are enthusiasts such as we.

    And if Lexus thinks they can get people’s emotions stirred, compared to Mercedes, Bimmer, and (maybe) Audi, haha. Ha. YYYYeah.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      What you said.

      The emotion Lexus can generate is in buying a car that won’t visit the repair shop every month.

      • 0 avatar
        raresleeper

        That goes hand in hand, unfortunately.

      • 0 avatar
        th009

        Just for giggles, I looked up three-year old Audi, BMW, Lexus and MB on truedelta.com, which actually gives the number of repair trips per year.

        2012 Audi A4: 0.17
        2012 BMW 3-series: 0.52
        2012 Mercedes C-class: 0.12

        Sadly, not enough data for Lexus, but the Germans are averaging well less than one repair PER YEAR.

        This is for cars nearing the end of the warranty (relevant for most people who buy new), but let’s also take a look at ones twice as old:

        2009 Audi A4: 0.43 (3.2) 0.62 (2.0T)
        2009 BMW 3-series: 0.38 (335i) 0.50 (328i)
        2009 Mercedes C-class: 0.38

        “Monthly repair trips” sounds cool but it’s really just an urban myth …

        • 0 avatar
          raresleeper

          Indeed.

          The Germans ARE more than just a pretty face.

          The folks who can’t afford them like to keep that “urban myth” maintained and up to par.

          Bring your new 5-Series home to your Uncle Phil’s for Thanksgiving Dinner.

          “You bought a BMW? Hopefully you live next door to a repair shop,” he says aloud, followed by laughter from the whole group.

          Uncle Phil still drives the old Astro Van which he throws the morning paper out of. Daily.

          Case in point.

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          The key here being “three-year old”. I wouldn’t expect that pattern to hold into years 6,7,8, etc.

          If you want to lease the car or only own it short term, the German brands are worry free. Longer term ownership? Lexus.

          • 0 avatar
            raresleeper

            Agreed.

            And if you buy one of them twelve-cylinder German jobs, you’re asking for it.

            That’s an urban myth I’ll pay close attention to :)

          • 0 avatar
            th009

            I gave the 6-year-old-car numbers above. But in case you didn’t read far enough, here they are again:

            2012 Audi A4: 0.17
            2012 BMW 3-series: 0.52
            2012 Mercedes C-class: 0.12

            2009 Audi A4: 0.43 (3.2) 0.62 (2.0T)
            2009 BMW 3-series: 0.38 (335i) 0.50 (328i)
            2009 Mercedes C-class: 0.38

            2006 Audi A4: 0.74
            2006 BMW 3-series: 0.72
            2006 Mercedes C-class: (not enough data)

            So, no, I don’t think they blow up immediately after warranty, either. But the original claim was that “The emotion Lexus can generate is in buying a car that won’t visit the repair shop every month.” And we were talking about new-car buyers, not people buying 10-year-old cars.

          • 0 avatar
            th009

            And for anecdotal data, I’ll say that I drove my last two German premium brand cars to 8+ years old each, with only a handful of repairs for each one. The current one is three years old, with not a single repair so far.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            @30-mile fetch

            I’ve owned a couple dozen French, German, Italian, British, and Swedish cars. With the exception of a truly beat to crap Volvo 245T that truly hated me, none have been more than a repair every six months or so at worst car, and most much better than that. And these are cars that were bought WELL used, generally over 100K, a couple of Volvos over 200K. Even my 140K ’01 Range Rover has had only one actual breakdown in the 13 months I have had it, a blown upper radiator hose. Which is my fault, because I knew the hose was going bad and ignored it too long.

            I have an aunt and a couple of cousins who have been long term serial Lexus owners. They are better, but not THAT much better than the equivalent Europeans when they get old, and they certainly are no cheaper to fix when they break.

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            th009,
            I did indeed fail to read far enough down the post, my apologies. For years, a lot of folks have been quoting 3-year old reliability data as if it means anything, so I jumped the gun.

            khodes,
            I appreciate the reply, you have a lot of experience with European makes. I’ve got to ask though, if you’ve owned a couple dozen cars, how many miles and how much time with each before moving on?

          • 0 avatar
            Brian P

            I’ve taken two VW TDI cars well past 400,000 km. The last one (2006 Jetta) needed nothing other than normal maintenance, and wheel bearings (all 4 corners). At 430,000 km it had a list of things that needed doing. I sold it to a VW enthusiast with a backyard shop, he fixed what I said needed to be fixed, and it’s still on the road.

            Lexus doesn’t build anything that interests me.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            @30-mile-fetch

            For the past 20 years, I have owned at least three cars at a time, and for a while I had six. Generally, I would buy any given car and keep it for 3-4 years. 20-50K each. Some of the cars were sports cars so much less mileage put on, like my two Alfas and two Saab Sonnets. But for the ordinary cars, I typically bought them at 90K-120K and sold at 150K-170K. A few with much less, a few with much more. I’ve historically been a pretty high mileage driver due to where I live and what I do for a living. Not so much anymore, I’m down to more like 15K a year vs. 25K+ back in those days.

            As I said, with the exception of an ’82 Volvo 245T that was an absolute disaster because it was a heap when I bought it, I have few complaints. They all needed sundry maintenance and repairs because they were mostly pretty old cars when I bought them. But the idea of repairs every month once they were sorted out is utterly absurd. Anything I buy new(er) is never going to get to the point of needing sorting out. Even my notoriously unreliable Range Rover has had one actual breakdown in 14 months, and as I mentioned, it was my own fault.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Here’s a question on repairs:

          Shop replaces something like a fuel pump. Fuel pump goes bad under warranty soon after, and you take car back to shop. Does manufacturer of fuel pump pay for the labor of the replacement install? I’m thinking the shop wouldn’t normally have to eat that cost.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            @CoreyDL

            Any decent shop will take care of that at no charge, assuming you bought the pump from them. Most dealers give at least a 12 month warranty on repairs.

            I have no idea if an indy shop gets reimbursed by the parts supplier for labor, dealers certainly do. Probably depends on the supplier.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Thanks!

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          My ’11 3-series has had exactly two issues in 3.5 years. A power seat module shorted out when it was a couple months old, and recently one of the headlight washers sprung a leak and was replaced. Based on much time spent on BMW forums, I don’t expect much in the way of issues with this car, and there are folks on the forums with better than 250K on them at this point.

          Maybe a Camry would have gone 3.5 years with no issues, but since the average Camry has neither power seats nor headlight washers, hard to compare. My Mom’s Prius-V has been notably less reliable than my BMW over the same time and mileage, for what little that is worth. I expect the Prius to be cheaper over the long haul, but I don’t care, the BMW is worth it for how it drives, and I can afford it.

          • 0 avatar
            S2k Chris

            Did you really just brag about the longevity and problem-free nature of your 2011 model car?

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            Specifically, he bragged about the longevity and problem-free nature of his 2011, while noting two significant quality issues.

            But he can afford it, so it’s all good.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            This is a good reminder of why reliability surveys need to ask specific questions (Did X fail?, Did Y require repair?, etc.) rather than vague ones that require judgment (Is your car reliable?). The answers can be quite different.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            No bragging. Just making the point that even though I have a car that some on here seem to think will need monthly repairs, it has had two very minor issues in 3.5 years, while my Mom’s car, which is held up as a paragon of reliability, has had more and more serious issues in the same time frame – it’s been towed to the dealer twice now. ALL cars have issues when they are new (except my Fiat so far, oddly enough), that is why cars come with a warranty.

            As with most things, the truth is in the middle. Toyotas are not as good as their Internet reputation would have them, and BMWs are not as bad. On average, over the long haul, the Toyota likely will be a little better, but the difference is unlikely to bankrupt anyone. Especially anyone who can afford a BMW in the first place. Where people get in trouble is when they can really only afford a lightly used Toyota, and they buy a very used BMW instead.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            @Vogo

            In what universe are a bad relay and a leaking headlight washer nozzle “significant quality issues”? Neither impacted the operation of the car in any way.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            What universe? Lifelong Honda/Acura owner. From my perspective, those are significant issues. Apparently not yours.

            Which is fine – we can have different perspectives. But I find hard data — like the results from True Delta — to be a lot more persuasive than personal anecdote.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            @Vogo

            And yet from the data posted here from True Delta, there is very little difference between them.

            And I think a lot of it is that the sort of person who drives Japanese cars is a lot less fussy than the sort of person who drives German cars. My friends who are Japanese car owners will drive around with warning lights on and things broken and never fixed that I would never tolerate. My friend with the Optima has had a CEL for almost a year now – it won’t get fixed until the time comes for inspection next month, even though the car is under warranty and it won’t cost him anything. He just doesn’t care. On his prior Hondas, if it didn’t affect the basic operation of the car, or inspection, it didn’t get fixed.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            The Optima is not Japanese, I don’t drive with CELs. and I have no interest in arguing about quality with a Fiat driver.

            Enjoy your choices.

        • 0 avatar
          05lgt

          OK, so “monthly repair” is hyperbole. Without the Lexus numbers to compare to though, I’m not finding these numbers exciting. My truedelta account got cancelled (coincidentally) after I questioned a previous TTAC writers assertion. Not refreshing it just to see if they really have no lexus repair frequency numbers at any age or maybe they just don’t have enough for 2012??

          • 0 avatar
            th009

            There are some Lexus numbers, but not for all years (not enough cars/subscribers). The numbers are indeed better:

            2007 IS: 0.39
            2007 ES: 0.25
            2013 RX: 0.08
            2011 RX: 0.15
            2010 RX: 0.34
            2008 RX: 0.28
            2007 RX: 0.61
            (Sample sizes are too small for others.)

            My point wasn’t that the Germans are better (or as good as) Lexus, but that they really are not so bad in absolute terms as to turn most people off.

        • 0 avatar
          boost135

          Thanks for the useful results, 009.

          For me, it has been so many model years now passed of the German makes leading the luxury segments in powertrain technologies that Toyota’s strategy in that regard is a clear, conservative one. The comment “for us, petrol hybrids are the solution” rings of a strawman argument answer to a question no one that is really competitive is asking.

          I do see the point of long term re sale returns with Toyota’s proven, mostly normally aspirated powertrains, but I’m not so sure that is really considered an attribute of a luxury experience any longer. 6 years mostly trouble free is going to do it for most with the spending power.

          Having take home sampled both the 4.0 turbo V8 and 3.0 TDi A8’s while in the companies employ, its clear to me Id take either compared to Lexus LS Sport and Hybrid offerings.

          I would like to see the Truedelta numbers for Lexus, especially at 6 years. id expect them to have some leadership at that metric.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      There are very few actual car enthusiasts on this site. People interested in the auto industry, sure, but enthusiasts, not so much.

      I think emotion is part of it, but I also think the driving experience still matters. I have driven examples of most of the Lexus line over the years, they all drive like Toyotas. Which is great if you are looking for a quiet, smooth riding, but ultimately boring as heck car. Even the IS. Not a one of them goads you into going a little faster and a little faster and a little faster like a BMW does. None of them have that “feel” that every single Mercedes does (I reserve judgement on the CLA until next week). Personally, I have never understood the draw of Audi, but whatever.

      • 0 avatar
        raresleeper

        I like the solidity of a Mercedes. And the highway cruising of such is bliss.

        Tossing them about is one thing. They are heavy cars.

        They stop well, too, when the opportunity for serious braking arises. But they just feel…. weighty.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Boring to drive applies to any BMW that starts with an F too. My first Audi, an ’84 4000S quattro, was fun to drive. Can’t say that about the rest of them. Haven’t driven the latest Lexus IS, but supposedly it isn’t as bad to drive as a new 3-series when properly equipped. I drove a CLS that belongs to a friend the other day. I struggled to find polite words to say about the experience. It has almost 50,000 miles, but there was a time when that wouldn’t have had a bit of an impact on how a Mercedes-Benz drove.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          I rather like the F3Xs, and my next new car purchase will be an F22. As I have said on here before, they have all moved up a class, just like everyone else’s cars. The new 3 is the old 5, and the 2 is the old 3. Perfectly fine with me. BMW has always made from mild to wild depending on option choice, my Mom’s ’83 528e was a heck of a long way from being an ultimate driving machine. But it was still a nice car. And it is still on the road.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        “There are very few actual car enthusiasts on this site. People interested in the auto industry, sure, but enthusiasts, not so much.”

        There can be a difference between a “car enthusiast” and a hot-shoe “driving enthusiast”.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Trying to beat the Germans in luxury is like trying to beat the Americans in big pickup trucks. It’s effing pointless. You might be able to carve a little market share, but even with a superior product you will never capture the core or heart of the market. Brand value and legacy is an equity that defies logic and reason.

    The only way to win is to catch the big dogs when they are sleeping or not on their job, like the domestics in the 70s, or the Germans in the late 80s. But again, those were either highly localized or temporary victories. Toyota/Honda are on top in the US mainstream market, but just barely. Lexus and to a lesser degree Infiniti were at the Germans’ level of desirability in the US during the early 90s, but things went back to normal by the mid 00s. And keep in mind, outside of the US, the Germans are still king.

    The only way the Germans could lose their collective crown is to get as bad as the D3 did in the late 70s. It would have to be the perfect storm of unreliability with a decline of desirability, performance and brand cachet, combined with a perfectly timed assault of desirable substitutes from other players. Germans are not that dumb- that is their play! Plus they maintained volume through AND AFTER the dismal late 90s/early 00s, where cost cutting brought quality/reliability to an unacceptable low. So, for the forseeable future, the Germans’ dominance in the luxury realm is pretty much a given fact. The best outsiders can hope for is to cover regional niches the Germans are slow to see/enter, like Lexus did with the RX/ES, or Chrysler did with the 300. There is no way any non-Germans can go head to head with any Germans in the major luxury segments and hope to win though, that’s a fool’s errand.

    • 0 avatar
      schmitt trigger

      “Trying to beat the Germans in luxury is like trying to beat the Americans in big pickup trucks. It’s effing pointless. . Brand value and legacy is an equity that defies logic and reason.”

      Truest and most accurate comment.

  • avatar
    STRATOS

    Lexus has no heritage or history of any kind .This reason is also limiting European sales.The only thing i do not understand is why their undercarriage is so untidy ,compared to other luxury brands.I know its stupid to look under a car ,but it does tell you a lot about the company.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      This. Who’d buy a car that wasn’t tied to war crimes and slave labor?

      • 0 avatar
        jhefner

        Not that the Japanese did any of those things, oh no. (Not.)

        Occupation of China (rape of Nanking, treatment of POWs, etc.), anyone? Bataan Death March? etc. etc.

        (With that said; Happy Veteran’s Day to you veterans out there, and thank you for your sacrifice in defense of this country.)

      • 0 avatar
        Nick_515

        BAM! CJ, this one-liner is borderline trolling, but you are right in that luxury is more than product… it’s legacy. Ok here’s a question along those lines: how come rising post-WWII US hegemony has increasingly dominated the global cultural scene (few non-westerners learn german these days) but not the luxury car scene? it can’t really be explained by timeline.

        • 0 avatar
          jhefner

          It did through the 1950s; that was when you saw Mercedes and even Toyota sporting small tail fins and lots of chrome.

          But the 1950s was also when the rest of the world began to downsize and the VW and Japanese makes began their rise to power; the D3 were slow to respond and their early small car offerings were less than impressive. We then lost our world influence in the late 1960s and 1970s; the 1980s saw crease-and-tuck styling and lots of chrome give way to “Euro” styling with aerodynamic chrisp lines, blackout trim and little or no chrome; the US and Japan then followed their lead never to regain it.

          http://www.blogcdn.com/www.autoblog.com/media/2007/06/eurosportvr.jpg

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          US automakers chased volume at the expense of real luxury. They also tried to quantify luxury itself, which led to cars so large that many people weren’t comfortable driving them. Meanwhile, luxury was measured in KPH in Germany, necessitating excellent road manners. Throw in doors that you could open in your garage and dimensions that weren’t a trial in every parking situation, and suddenly an S-class Mercedes was a revelation instead of an expensive compact. Families shrank too, so three across seating front and back stopped being an advantage.

          China’s influence on the luxury car market is doing interesting things to the Germans. Owner-driven luxury cars aren’t popular there, so long wheelbase models are popular and driving dynamics don’t matter a bit. It will be interesting to see how tenaciously the Germans can hold onto the world market now that they make indifferent-driving, gadget-laden gin-palaces with hideous styling.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      @Stratos

      I’ve long said that if you want to see why a BMW costs what they do, put one on a lift, walk under it, and look up. It’s not the badge.

      I really don’t care about history or heritage. If Toyota could make a car that drives like a BMW, I would buy it. They have come pretty close, but they always seem to shoot themselves in the foot. Like the Lexus IS wagon they sold for a while. Brilliant, but autotragic only and that instrument cluster – no way I could look at that hot mess every day. No sale. Same with Acura wagon, autotragic only and a torqueless wonder of a Honda engine. No sale. For me, that car with a turbo 4 and a stick would have been a STRONG contender.

      • 0 avatar
        Fred

        You have insulted my car. Where is the thumbs down button?

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        I’d love to know what you’re looking at it that impresses you so much. Single piston sliding calipers that freeze? Paucity of rustproofing? Undersized front control arms that are wear parts? Torn rear subframe mountings? Disintegrating guibos? Plastic radiator tanks? Maybe your frame of reference could use an upgrade.

  • avatar
    DeeDub

    “Lexus will now focus on “emotion.” Thus, more high-performance vehicles with better driving dynamics, and likely more Predator grills.”

    This fits with the hints that they’re changing direction on the next LS more toward the Panamera than the S Class. That ought to tank repeat sales nicely.

  • avatar
    alexndr333

    Been to Europe lately? The middle income French typically drive Renaults, Peugeots and Citroens; their Italian counterparts drive Fiats, Lancias and Alfas; the middle-class Brits drive Fords and Vauxhauls; the Germans drive VW’s and Opels. The luxury classes in all these countries drive the three Germans and Jaguar. Yeah, it’s an oversimplifiction, but the fact remains that European drivers are primarily nationalistic in their brand loyalties. Americans are only brand-loyal with our trucks. For cars, we are internationalistic, but then adopt knee-jerk buying habits – Germans for luxury-sport status, Japanese for anti-car / reliability honors. It’s no wonder why Lexus can’t get a toe-hold in Europe, why Cadillac can’t get a decent shake in the US and why the Chinese will have a tough time exporting to anyplace.

    • 0 avatar
      jimbob457

      I would not consider US consumers nationalistic even when it come to light trucks. Toyota, Nissan and even Honda offer a good product in this segment, but in small town America they just do not have either the dealer base or the reservoir of experienced indy mechanics to compete for more than a fringe of the market.

  • avatar
    Fonzy

    I want one of the only cars that has emotion in the Lexus lineup now – the IS-F. I think I’ll get a CPO one next year. I’m choosing the Lexus over the M4, S4, C63 because I want to own the car for more than 5 years.

    I wouldn’t own any of the German cars, only lease. I think that is what Lexus needs to advertise. It’s a luxury car for the people who like to keep their cars for longer than 3 years.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    Your post and a previous post from sportyaccordy highlight the value of brand equity.

    Just as the Germans have cornered the luxury/performance market and the Americans the large trucks, the Japanese are the perceived masters of reliability and resale value.

    They should focus on that aspect.

  • avatar
    stuki

    Judging by current trends, emotion marketing will fail outside of Japan. The Japanese are sufficiently different that their vision of the world just doesn’t square with the masses. Particularly not with the moneyed masses.

    Part of adding “emotion” to the operation of a car, is to make it lively and engaging at the speeds at which it is being operated. The Germans no longer do that. Because they know full and well that what sells luxury cars in Europe, the Middle East, China and also largely America, is not how the car dynamically “feels” from the seat of the average driver. But rather, how well they perform for the Stig on a closed course.

    For cheap cars, there is a fair degree of overlap between the two. Cue Miata and FiST. But once you’re a luxury brand, you have to make a choice. Optimizing for the Burgerkingring grossly suboptimizes even for an unpatrolled Angeles Crest or Dragon. And infinitely more so for the tasks luxury brand cars are in reality being asked to perform.

    But all cars work well by now. Even a Lamborghini can do daily chores well enough. Probably at least as well as a 30 year old econobox beater. And just as some people put up with the latter, others put up with the former. As long as the payoff is being able to bask in the glow of making the “right choice” as verified by Top Gear.

    • 0 avatar
      carve

      Yeah- I LOVE my 2007 E90 335i (which hasn’t given me any problems for the last 3 years, despite some teething issues). That said, it’s almost frustrating to drive “normal” when it could do so much more, particularly on rough roads. I demoed a new F30 328i. Not nearly as interesting or fun, but not bad and certainly a better car to be stuck in in LA traffic.

  • avatar
    akatsuki

    Maybe. I bought a Gs350 f sport over the Europeans and have no regrets. It is just a stellar car.

    I’d never buy an Audi, the interiors are overrated and the reliability is also poor (no matter what true delta says I know too many people with small repairs that they just don’t bother with).

    The press has always skated to where the puck was and is far too obsessed with heritage rather than what is in front of them.

  • avatar
    romismak

    1st time read Teutonic trinity as name for German 3 premium brands

    Anyway this article is from Lexus Europe boss – which is logical, in Europe is Lexus irrelevant, people here from US are comparing maybe Lexus as big rival for German 3, but outside of NA, Lexus is really happy to be 4th, Lexus/Acura/Infiniti are just marques, something created by Japanese engineers from their 3 biggest automakers, with no history, they can have superior products but most people will choose German 3 over LExus any day, especially outside of US
    Even in Japan so far this year Mercedes is selling more than Lexus i think – Lexus is on Japanese market just since 2004 or so, but in Toyota country where they have like 40% of passenger car market… Only market outside US where Lexus is No.1 is Middle east which also won´t be long before BMW or Mercedes will be No.1 brand there, in term of volume

  • avatar
    romismak

    Lexus can´t compete with DE3 brands, 1st of all Lexus has no history it´s just like Acura and Infiniti, created brand, because Japanese managers and engineers thought they can steal some market share from Germans

    Outside of NA Lexus is irrelevant brand, only in GCC countries is No.1 – but in few years i am sure either BMW or MB will become No.1 there too.

    This article is about Lexus European boss, who exactly knows how tough it is, in Europe Lexus is just something ,,new,, Toyota reliability and so on, but can´t compete – never with MB, BMW, Audi, the same goes for Ghosn dreams about Infiniti being ,,competitive,, in Europe

  • avatar
    akatsuki

    History, soul, blah, blah, blah.

    Europeans prefer to buy European cars. Magazines are staffed by people who grew up in some mythological golden age when BMW actually made sport sedans and wasn’t the aspirational car for every Honda Accord buyer – and who haven’t moved past that.

    Lexus’s biggest problem is that they launched with the LS400 in the USA which quickly established them as a bargain play to get people to buy. Then they became competitive with Mercedes and BMW and priced accordingly. And only then did they go to Europe. If they had gone to Europe with their original pricing advantage, they’d be in a much better position now in that market.

    This is basic – price does create perception, but the product has got to be there. Cadillac is trying to move the price lever, but the product is barely there.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      The LS has remained a bargain with the LS460 still a cool $20k cheaper than an S Class.

      The LS400, however, was launched at a price lower than a well-equipped E Class.

      The most successful of the Japanese lux brands in NA, the cheaper FWD-based models, however still make up the bulk of sales and will only increase with sales of the NX and Lexus pondering a sub-NX crossover.

      As for Cadillac – the CTS is generally regarded superior to the GS and widely regarded as the better handler.

      The CTS outsells the GS by a good bit (and has a higher ATP) and that’s even with another sedan, the XTS, in the same price range.

      In the mid-price range for lux sedans, Cadillac WAY outsells Lexus.

  • avatar
    hifi

    “Lexus will now focus on emotion.”

    How exactly will they do that? Let’s see… Will it continue to be with bad design that ranges from conventional and unexceptional to juvenile and amateurish? With poor performance? (referencing the CT in the picture) With the obvious visual and tactile connection with Toyota? With a showroom of low-end volume sellers that make up the majority of Lexus sales? With an outdated flagship? With a tarted-up 4 Runner? With a tarted up Land Cruiser? With a vulgar looking small SUV that handles like a lowly Rav4 because it’s based on a Rav 4. With a midsize 5 series competitor that is easily mistaken for a Camry? With a handmade car that no one wants, and they lose money on even though it costs over $300k? Give me a break. Lexuss’ idea of emotion has been ugly and not believable. Actually, it’s been downright frightening lately with their signature retarded grille and overwraught molded vinyl caps they stick on each of their vehicles.

    All this “we aren’t going to compete against the Germans because we are going for emotion” is just a cop-out and a red herring for the real issue. They aren’t going to compete against the Germans because it’s really hard to do, and Lexus can’t do it. Lexus is a brand that can’t get out of its own way because it’s associated with a goliath of a company, Toyota. Like most big Japanese companies that find a successful path, they never veer off that path even when the world changes around them. And as the German brands (and let’s face it, Tesla) realize, leading change is more advantageous than following it. Opting out altogether is really pathetic.

  • avatar
    slance66

    My 2007 328xi bought CPO has had one issue, a leaking intake gasket, fixed under CPO warranty. That’s it in the four+ years I have had it. Most trouble free car I have ever owned, including several Hondas.

    Our 2007 RX350 bought used as well (lower miles than the BMW) has had: two batteries replaced, both right side struts replaced, both rear wheel bearings replaced, three coils replaced, has a broken interior vent grille, and a few more minor things.

    But this misses the point. The German three aren’t selling reliability. They sell feel, solidity, and even against Lexus they generally have an edge. My BMW vent grilles are not going to break, they seem industrial strength compared to those in the Lexus, which are Toyota parts bin level. Switch-gear and these minor details are where the other luxury brands fall behind.

  • avatar
    boost135

    With short term reliability past the dark days, the German 3 really just needed to work on the dealership experience to catch up with Lexus in that regard. The white glove treatment, goodwill repair budget, ammenities and huge loaner car fleets are a large part of the experience for luxury consumers from my understanding. Some of the german brands have recently done a great job of stepping outside of their culture on this aspect and going ahead with copying the Lexus model.

    Technology wise, I wonder if Lexus is planning to more or less ride out the IC engine altogether..following Tesla eventually.

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