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Hybrid Is The First Step Towards Electrification Of Cars: Lexus India

Akitoshi Takemura, Senior Vice-President, Lexus India, tells BW Businessworld the hybrid segment, India’s luxury car market and their plans ahead

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Even though there is a dip in the luxury car market in India, Japanese auto major Toyota is betting big on its Lexus-badged premium vehicles in the domestic market and feels hybrid alternatives would be the first step towards electrification of vehicles. Akitoshi Takemura, Senior Vice-President, Lexus India, tells BW Businessworld the hybrid segment, India’s luxury car market and their plans ahead.

Edited excerpts:

The luxury car market is already hyper-competitive, with established players such as Mercedes, Audi, BMW and Jaguar, among others. How difficult will it be for you to crack the Indian setup?
We are happy to see a high brand awareness of Lexus in India. There is a desire for the brand here. This is from customers who have used Lexus in other countries and are now looking forward to the same experience in India. This includes our loyal Toyota guests who would like a related luxury alternative in India. That said, Lexus being one of the recent entrants in India, we still need to establish ourselves. We are focusing on some key areas which set Lexus apart, such as the hybrid technology that focuses on power and performance apart from being environment friendly vehicles.

What would be the key differentiators in terms of products which will give you an edge over your peers?
Lexus believes in contributing to the society by anticipating the needs of society and its people. With our ‘performance hybrid’ line-up, our guests would be able to contribute to the society without having to compromise on the car’s performance. All our models are critical for India, but each model plays a major role in its segment and caters to the specific needs of the consumer. Some of those earmarked for India are LX, RX and ES.

Speculation are rife that Lexus is planning to utilize Toyota’s production facilities at Bengaluru.
While we can’t comment specifically on future plans at this moment, we will reiterate the importance of the Indian market to Lexus in the global context. We are committed to growth in India in a sustainable manner.

You did mention about bringing in luxury hybrids in India. What is its potential and do you think Indian consumers will embrace such products?
Lexus as a brand believes in contributing by anticipating the needs of the society. With the current environmental issues, it’s the need of the hour to look for alternate ways. With our Performance Hybrid line up, our valued customers would be able to contribute to society without having to compromise on the performance of the car. Lexus hybrid cars are the practical choice in the move towards electrification of vehicles, wherein external charging of battery is not required. It’s an intelligent system, which uses the excess engine power and kinetic energy to recharge batteries without the need of an infrastructure of charging stations.

How much worth of auto components is Lexus planning to source from India? What are the key parts that you are sourcing from here?
Local production requires significant investment and we consider two factors. First, stable regulation and government policies, and second, volumes need to justify the investment. For now, we are focused on establishing the foundation on which we can deliver the exceptional Lexus brand experience to the Indian consumer.

What is your short-term to long-term sales target in India? What will be the key growth drivers?
Lexus never chases sales numbers. Our primary objective is to establish the brand among luxury car buyers in India. We want to create unparalleled guest experiences that will amaze their senses through product offers like the Performance Hybrids and overall ownership experience.

We are committed to growing steadily and sustainably in India.

Can you tell us how many Lexus cars are already plying on Indian roads? What kind of service support are you giving them?
While we cannot reveal sales figures, I am pleased to say that Lexus has received a warm welcome in India. Lexus showrooms in Delhi, Mumbai and Gurgaon are already gaining traction.

Just like China, are you working on India Specific cars? If yes, can you share the details?
In terms of our current line-up — LX, RX and ES, we have selected the most luxurious specs which comply with the Indian automobile regulations. In addition to that, the exterior and interior colour combination is also designed to meet the requirements of our potential customers.

What kind of potentialities do you foresee in the Tier-II and Tier-III cities?
Lexus is committed to growth across the Indian market. The way the Indian consumer experiences luxury is evolving with rising affluence. We see opportunities mapped to the remarkable growth that India is experiencing.

What is your long-term outlook for the Indian market? By the next decade, will it be among the top 10 markets globally?
India is a very important market, for a number of reasons. The rapidly-growing economy and rising affluence certainly present a favorable environment. We also recognize the opportunity to serve the market with quality vehicles that meet the needs of the discerning Indian luxury consumer.

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