Lexus undeterred by COVID-19, not going back on new launches
The Japanese carmaker, however, will look at the changing consumer behaviour, as it expects the luxury car business to be the last to recover from the massive disruption caused by the pandemic, according to its India head.
Earlier this year, Lexus India said it would bring in three models this year--the flagship hybrid electric car LC 500h coupe, and the new variants of the ES 300h Exquisite and the NX 300h Exquisite.
"Of course, the pandemic has dampened the sentiment for us and I expect the luxe car segment to be the last to recoup. Having said that let me make it clear that we have no plans to shelve or delay the three launches which we had announced in the beginning of the year," P B Venugopal, the president of Lexus India, told over phone from his Bengaluru headquarters.
Whether the luxury car segment will survive the pandemic-induced slump, he pointed to the large latent potential as the industry pie is only about 1.5 per cent of the total market of over 3 million units, while the global average is 5-7 per cent.
"We are targeting carbon-neutral customers here and therefore we are for the long-term here. Of our total sales almost 80 per cent are self-charging hybrid electric vehicles," Venugopal said without sharing the total number of cars it has sold since the entry in March 2017 citing internal policy constraints.
Expecting the new normal to be more digital, he said they'll look at human-centric digital solutions to drive the brand philosophy of empathy, engagement and encouragement, as Lexus is an emotional brand.
Lexus has seven dealers and three guest experience centres and a manufacturing plant at Bidai near Bengaluru, which is the fourth plant for the company after the mother plant in the US, Japan and Canada.
Venugopal said they will be launching four more guest experience centres in Chandigarh, Chennai, Kochi and Hyderabad complementing those in New Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore.
On the response to the locally-produced world-class sedan ES 300h, which was rolled out this January, he said the customer response to the car was "much beyond expectation".
Lexus sells the ES 300h (Rs 56.95 lakh), NX 300h (Rs 60.60 lakh), RX 450hL (Rs 99 lakh), and the LC 500h (Rs 1.96 crore) among others.
The RX 450hL is the world's most popular self-charging hybrid electric SUV, and was launched in the country last October.Lexus began its journey in 1989 in the US as a subsidiary of the automobile giant Toyota Motor Corporation, and has since then expanded its line-up around the world and has become the luxury hybrid leader, having sold over 1 million hybrid vehicles globally. BEN MR
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