Lexus Europe is positioning itself as a green, technology-driven alternative to Germany's premium automakers. The brand’s Europe head, Alain Uyttenhoven, explained the Toyota subsidiary’s strategy for the region to Automotive News Europe Editor Luca Ciferri.
Is Lexus's focus on hybrids an advantage in Europe?
Our customers are people looking for what we call progressive luxury. The luxury element is clear: these people want a car that stands out. Progressive is more important for us and it comprises two elements. First, rewarding yourself rather than showing off to the outside world. Second, rich people – sometimes extremely rich people – care about the planet. These people are eco-minded. They build houses that are self-sufficient in energy and a Lexus car fits perfectly there.
Will Lexus offer diesel powertrains in Europe again?
No, for the foreseeable future gasoline-hybrid will be our defining technology for Europe.
Lexus wants to more than double sales in Europe to 100,000 by 2020 from 43,000 last year. Where will the bulk of your conquests come from?
In percentage terms, we attract more buyers from brands such as Jaguar, Land Rover and Volvo, but in terms of volume, the bulk of conquest comes from Audi, BMW and Mercedes. The Germans control three-quarters of the European luxury market: every time you fish for a premium customer, you fish in their pond.
Why has Lexus given the NX midsize crossover such a bold design?
We are looking for people who start new trends. We want to be the outsider and the NX is our new face. You will see polarizing design from Lexus in coming years. We are not chasing a 25 percent market share in Europe, but 3 percent to 5 percent, maybe 8 percent to 10 percent. We don’t seek to please everybody, we aim to please certain groups a lot.