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BW Businessworld

Last Word: Transporting Emotions

In an exclusive interaction with BW Businessworld, P.B. VENUGOPAL, President, Lexus India, shared the company’s future plans and insights on how the auto sector has been impacted because of the Covid-19 pandemic and much more

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The first 60 days were challeng­ing. We created a framework for balancing work and life. Thereaf­ter, we found a new normal, which is not static but dynamic. Ulti­mately, we have come to ground zero where everybody is equal. 

The situation improved a little bit after July and we are antici­pating that the second half will be better than the first half. We are still learning about the Indian market and our hypothesis articu­lates that the luxury segment is conscious about the impact on the environment. So keeping this in mind, we came with self-charging hybrid vehicles. 

For me, Lexus is not (sim­ply) about transporting, it is about transporting emotions and experience. We use lots of handcrafted material in our product. Each design is the result of the expectation of our guests. At Lexus, we call it ‘Takumi Craftsmanship’. A Takumi Craftsman spends 60,000 hours to master a particular art. So that’s how the design element plays an extremely important role. 

In the auto sector, commercial segment has taken a big hit. The passenger vehicle segment will have a gradual recovery. We were already going through difficult times and Covid makes the situation even worse. We may not see V-shape recovery like 2008, but we will see the W-shape recovery. 

Within one-year, automotive sector will be optimistic and in the 2nd year, the growth will be more realistic. We are just three-year old and are still learning. We always keep the guest at the centre of whatever we are trying to do. Fol­lowing the same, we focus on one point of contact with our guests as we want to maintain lifetime relationships with them. 

We had trained Lexus relation­ship managers to be there when our guest have issues and to com­municate brand philosophy to the new customers. We spend more on one-on-one communication. Moving ahead, we are shifting on Phygital - a combination of physi­cal and digital. 

Moving ahead in the next ten months, there will be no change in the business plan that we have announced at the starting of the year. However, we will be ex­panding our experience centres to some more states. 

The Lexus coupe launch will not be affected by Co­vid-19 and will be launched as planned. We are committed to India for a long-term point of view. 

We have announced the local production of our execu­tive Sedan Es 300h in India. It is getting a great response. Even, we are making the vehicle as per Indian road re­quirements. 

For India’s specific market, we have changed the sus­pension for Indian roads. After the IC engine, self-charg­ing hybrid should have been the next step before jumping towards electric vehicles. 

The government is in the right direction as importance is being given to the environment. Considering the avail­able infrastructure, we feel that a self-charging Hybrid is the need of the time.

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P.B. Venugopal Last Word Magazine issue 22 Sep 2020