Lexus looking at enhancing footprint in India, says Naveen Soni

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Lexus, the luxury car brand of Japanese auto giant Toyota, is planning to expand its footprint in India and open dealerships in two more cities in the next couple of months, according to a senior company official.

Commencing its India operations in 2017, Lexus currently offers seven models and has dealerships in five cities.

Known for its hybrid vehicles, the company sells sedans like ES 300h and LS 500h, SUVs like NX 350h, RX 450hL and LX 570, and a sole coupe model, LC 500h. The vehicles are available in the price range of Rs 59.50 lakh to Rs 2.33 crore (ex-showroom). The brand has dealerships in Delhi, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Chandigarh.

“We have five dealerships, which we call guest experience centres, across the country. We will open a new one this month in Chennai and another early next month in Kochi. So far as the luxury car market is concerned, these seven cities represent 56% of the total volume,” Naveen Soni, president, Lexus India, told FE.

“While these seven cities are giving the industry 56% of the volume, we are getting 66% of our volume from them as dealers are doing good business. But some customers are buying our products outside these seven cities,” he added. However, Soni declined to share the sales volume of Lexus India.

The luxury car brand is also banking on Toyota’s network to open more Lexus service points.

“We are trying to open up 12 or 13 Lexus service points using our mother brand Toyota’s network and there we would be able to provide Lexus-class service to our customers, which will give them the confidence to buy Lexus products,” Soni pointed.

With Lexus recently completing five years in India, Soni said that while initially, we had to let people know about the strengths of the brand, we entered a consolidation phase CY 2019 onwards and are now in a sustainable growth phase.

At the global level, Lexus is planning to switch to a complete battery electric vehicle portfolio by 2035. In India, the company is testing UX battery electric vehicle.

“97% of our portfolio sold in India is self-charging hybrid battery electric vehicle. We are trying a new model called UX, which is a completely battery electric vehicle. We have imported a few sample units to test in the market and to judge customer acceptance,” Soni said.

Although Soni did not give a timeline for the launch of UX in India, talking about other models, he said that earlier this year, the company launched the new NX model in the country and towards the end of this year, the new LX model will be introduced.

“We will continue to find better products, we are conducting trials on electric cars and we are looking at enhancing our brand footprint. With all this, I think we can reach a better position,” Soni noted.

The luxury car market volume came down to 20,000 units in CY 2020 due to the pandemic from 40,000 units in CY 2018, according to Soni.

“After the second wave and with the third wave not being so severe, we are seeing quite a significant revival in the industry. In CY 2021, the industry volume was 28,000 units. This year has started well, both for the industry and Lexus India,” he said.

In CY 2021, the sales volume of Mercedes-Benz India increased by 42.43% y-o-y to 11,242 units, while BMW India witnessed a jump of 34.40% y-o-y to 8,876 units and Audi India recorded a rise of 101.04% y-o-y to 3,293 units.



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