In the two decades plus since Toyota launched Lexus as its premium marque, the brand has spread from its original market in North America to new markets around the world. Karl Schlicht has been with the company even longer: he's now head of global marketing and product planning for Lexus, and he's got a big job on his hands.
The trouble is that while North American buyers may want one thing from their luxury automobiles – values which Lexus was built on from the get-go – customers in Europe or Asia may want something else. Satisfying everyone's taste is no mean feat, but Schlicht's working on remaking Lexus to that end.
According to Automotive News, the idea is called "progressive luxury", and it's already taken hold with the new CT 200h. That's the direction Lexus is heading, with more sport models and more hybrids. The future that Schlicht and company have in store for the marque involves more "expressive, daring designs" than the largely derivative and bland styling statements on many current and past models, more hybrids, more advanced telematics (navigation and communications) systems, more performance-oriented F and F Sports packages, as well as reaching into new segments.
Along the way, Schlicht says Lexus will need a new coupe to replace the discontinued SC430 as well, and while new crossovers or SUVs could be in the works (in addition to the LX, GX and RX lines), going even smaller than the CT to tackle Mini territory isn't in the cards.
[Source: Automotive News – sub. req.]