Lexus gears up to drive EVs and shore up infra sales in India, Auto News, ET Auto

Elaborating further on the strategy, he said the company had also carefully selected around 12 cities where it would like to open Lexus Service Points (LSPs).

Having established its presence in the country, luxury automaker Lexus is now looking to chart its next phase of growth in India as it seeks to consolidate its sales network and drive new models, including fully electric cars. in the country, according to a senior company official. .

The company, which is the luxury car arm of major Japanese automaker Toyota, launched operations in India in 2017 and currently sells seven models in the country, including the locally produced ES 300h sedan.

Known for its self-charging hybrid cars, the company is now preparing to drive battery electric vehicles, in addition to expanding its portfolio of existing products in the market.

During an interaction with PTI, Lexus India Chairman Naveen Soni noted that the company is now on the cusp of a sustainable growth phase in the country.

He said the luxury automaker is currently evaluating its UX model with a full battery electric configuration to verify its performance in Indian climatic conditions.

After conducting the trials, which would mainly determine the impact of heat and dust on battery operation, the company could seriously consider launching the model in the country, Soni said.

“Overall, Lexus has given a direction that they would like to electrify, which is battery electricity by 2035. This is the mission given by our headquarters. Now, given this fact, we have to embark on this journey, transition into this journey,” he said.

Soni noted that in the future, as charging infrastructure develops, the company will increasingly prepare for battery electric vehicles.

“To begin the journey, we imported a few Battery Electric Vehicles (UX) from Japan…We are currently conducting customer acceptance trials and testing for the vehicle as our country has extreme climates and heat and dust that impact battery charge capacity over a period of time,” he said.

He added, “So we need to do this testing and testing. Once this testing is complete, we will take the next steps necessary to look at these products more seriously and move into the field of battery power.”

On other new models the company plans to launch in the near future, Soni said, “We are looking at newer models, especially the LX which has been a huge success in Japan… We are looking at introducing this car very soon. the country and we will announce bookings etc very soon.”

On network expansion plans, he said the automaker plans to open three more outlets in Chennai, Cochin and Chandigarh over the next two months, bringing the total number of its experience centers to seven. customer across the country.

“With these seven customer experience centers, we will cover 56% of the luxury car market,” Soni said.

Elaborating further on the strategy, he said the company had also carefully selected around 12 cities where it would like to open Lexus Service Points (LSPs).

These language service providers will provide services to customers outside of cities where they already have established brands, Soni said.

“It would give customers confidence for a better Lexus experience. In addition, we are also considering three or four locations where we would like to set up brand experience centers. With these 12 LSPs, I think our coverage will become 93 percent of the luxury car market in the country. So from 56% to 93% is the journey we intend to take this year,” he added.

He further stated, “In addition to this, sometime this year we will also announce an online shopping portal to allow customers to order Lexus from anywhere.”

When asked if the company would consider assembling more products locally, Soni said the only challenge in transitioning from CBU (fully built unit) to CKD was the issue of business sustainability.

“We need to secure certain minimum volumes, otherwise the vendor supporting localization will not be able to offer competitive pricing for the quality and type of technical requirements we have…so we are always looking to increase volumes to a level where it becomes sustainable for us to be able to provide a good product to the consumer at a competitive price,” he added.

The company is constantly analyzing the scenario, but there are still many miles to go before it reaches that level, Soni said.

He said the domestic luxury car segment was showing a rebound.

“The growth we are seeing today in the luxury car segment gives us confidence that it could be back even before we imagined. This year, I think, if all goes well, it could be back. at 32,000-35,000 units If that happens, obviously there’s more space and wiggle room for everyone to grow,” Soni noted.

India’s luxury car industry peaked in 2018 at around 40,000 units a year but fell to 20,000 units in the following two years due to Covid-19-related disruptions, he said.

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