Lexus targets high-networth buyers for growth in India

Poetry in motion:Luxury cars account for only 1.2% of the passenger car market in India.By special arrangement  

Lexus, the luxury brand from the stable of Japan’s Toyota, is targeting high networth individuals (HNIs) to grow its base in India.

Lexus, which has been positioned as a crafted luxury vehicle, ‘designed and manufactured with passion’, is being offered as a completely differentiated product to gain a foothold in India’s small, but potentially important luxury car market. The key differentiation is that the Lexus vehicles are self-charging, hybrid electric vehicles that contribute to reduction in emissions.

“Lexus is not just a vehicle. A lot of emotion goes into building it. This vehicle is more about experience and is a product of art. HNIs are our customer base,” said P.B. Venugopal, president, Lexus India.

Having started its Indian operations in 2017, Lexus has expanded its base to three Lexus Experience Centres in Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru. It has authorised service centres in Kochi, Hyderabad, Chennai and Chandigarh.

Currently, the company is selling six models in India and is gearing up to introduce LC 500, a luxury sports coupe in early 2020 in the Indian market.

Two-door LC 500

The two-door LC 500, globally launched in 2017, is already available in 68 countries and India now joins the list, top executives said. By June 2019, the company had sold a cumulative volume of 12,000 units globally.

Lexus is looking at India in the medium- to long-term perspective. “HNIs are growing in India and the market for luxury cars will grow in the medium to long term. We are also getting strong support from the Toyota family of customers who are upgrading to luxury vehicles,” Mr. Venugopal said.

He said 78% of the customers in India are from the Toyota stable.

About the firm’s performance, Mr. Venugopal said, “We are doing better than anticipated and there is a huge potential for Lexus in the medium to long term.”

He said Lexus, as the first Japanese luxury car brand, will help grow the luxury car market, which is only 1.2% of the total passenger car segment in India.

In developed markets, this ratio is 4-5% and India has the potential go to that level, he added.

( The writer was in Fukuoka, Japan, at the invitation of Lexus and visited the Toyota Motor Kyushu plant where Lexus vehicles are produced ).