Committed to Perfection – Toyota Motor Corporation President Akio Toyoda ended the 2018 Lexus National Dealer Meeting with a commitment to perfection and a promise to redefine the future of luxury.
Executives welcomed Lexus dealers to Dallas last week for a rousing business meeting that celebrated the brand’s history of craftsmanship and its commitment to redefine luxury in the years ahead.
That message came from the very top: Toyota Motor Corporation President Akio Toyoda. And, of course, there was a nod to Lexus’s scene-stealing role in the blockbuster film Black Panther.
More on that later.
And while the Lexus National Dealer Meeting proved to be a celebration of the present, all eyes were on the future.
A Texas Welcome
Toyota Motor North America CEO Jim Lentz opened the meeting with a warm Texas welcome.
“It’s so nice to have all of you here in our new hometown,” Lentz said. “It’s been just three short years from the time we broke ground to the day the last of us moved in. And while some of us are still adjusting to the change in weather, or the change in accent, most all of our team members would agree that it feels like home.”
Lentz highlighted how the One Toyota mission to streamline different areas of the business under one TMNA roof has already bore fruit for the company, especially for dealers.
Welcome to Texas – Toyota Motor North America CEO Jim Lentz welcomed dealers to the 2018 Lexus National Dealer Meeting, held at the Winspear Opera House in downtown Dallas.
“Perhaps one of the biggest benefits is the fact we now have merged supply and demand into one department that sits side by side in Plano, instead of at different locations around the world,” Lentz said. “It’s already appreciably helped our inventory management for Lexus. We now have production jurisdiction for anything sold in North America. And being able to resolve production imbalances locally has allowed us to move at least 50 percent faster than when we were in Torrance trying to coordinate these issues with Japan.”
A New Leader
Earlier this year, David Christ was named Lexus group vice president and general manager. He succeeded Jeff Bracken, who retired after 40 years of service to the company.
Christ laid out his focus areas for the brand as he begins his new role: the guest experience, product and team engagement.
A New Leader – David Christ lays out his priorities as the new group vice president and general manager for Lexus’ U.S. operations.
“Together, we must remain laser focused on delivering an amazing guest experience and treating each customer like a guest in our home,” Christ said. “The car is the star. I get it. We get it. And we are working hard on our product plan. Not just new product, but product cadence. I am personally committed to working closely with our great partners at TMC to deliver the kind of product lineup we need to continue to grow our brand.”
A Glimpse of the Future
So, what’s in the product pipeline?
Dealers got a look at the 2019 ES, arriving in showrooms now. The new ES includes more horsepower, class-leading technology and fuel economy. It’s also the first Lexus to launch with the next-generation Lexus Safety System+ 2.0.
With so much demand for entry-level SUVs, dealers are also understandably excited to start selling the UX.
It’s an all-new model for Lexus, featuring sophisticated exterior design and unique, aerodynamic styling elements. And they’re not just for show: the UX anticipates having the best estimated MPG of any SUV, luxury or non-luxury. UX also comes standard with Lexus Safety System + 2.0 and the latest multimedia technology.
Dealers also got a peek at the 2019 RX and GX, with both getting refined designs and interior upgrades.
“Our goal is this – to offer the most compelling and diverse luxury SUV lineup, ever,” Christ said. “Broad market coverage, at a price point from around $30,000 to over $100,000.”
Investing in the Future
Lexus is also focused heavily on the future of autonomy. It’s a point Bob Carter, TMNA executive vice president of sales, emphasized from the very start of his remarks.
Testing, testing… – Bob Carter, TMNA executive vice president of sales, highlighted Lexus’ role in autonomous vehicle technology research. The company’s entire test fleet is comprised of Lexus vehicles.
“While this development is being done on behalf of both of our brands, it’s worth pointing out that our autonomous test fleet is comprised entirely of Lexus vehicles, and it is the Lexus brand that will be debuting the various forms of autonomy we deploy.”
The King of Lexus
Then, it was time for a little bit of Hollywood. Or really, a little bit of Wakanda.
Dealers were treated to a retooled version of the Black Panther
trailer starring – who else? – Akio Toyoda.
As it faded to black, Toyoda appeared on stage. Turns out, he had some surprises up his sleeve – announcing a few new additions to the Lexus lineup.
“We invented the luxury SUV,” Toyoda said. “And now it’s time to double down on this segment. And in my humble opinion, no one can do it better than us. You already saw our new UX, and you’ve heard about plans for our existing SUV lineup. And, there will be more exciting new SUVs coming your way.”
As for when dealers could expect them on their sales floors?
“Well, the short answer is ‘as soon as possible,' ” Toyoda said. “The longer, more boring answer is that production planning is like a game of chess. Each move affects the next, and we’re trying to put the puzzle pieces together in the most efficient way possible.”
Toyoda emphasized the company’s goal to invest wisely in core products that will translate into real profits, and expand offerings at a pace that’s in line with customer demand and what Lexus is capable of doing well.
Again and again, Lexus leaders referenced a devotion to doing something well – and a commitment to craftmanship that will amaze the brand’s customers.
“We crafted something special,” Toyoda concluded. “We crafted something truly unique together, almost 30 years ago. Don’t ever forget what we created and what we’ve accomplished. We are Lexus. And together, we can. And we will.”
By Kristen Orsborn