Positive signals around the launch of the Lexus luxury car label in India have been forthcoming from Toyota Kirloskar Motors Limited and the latest word on this regard is from Mr. N. Raja, a senior vice president for sales and marketing at the Japanese automaker’s Indian division.
Answering a question on why Toyota has delayed the entry of Brand Lexus, Mr. Raja said and we quote,
The Lexus project was delayed due to heavy import duty and the sluggish market. At the moment, we are studying and looking at the feasibility of introducing Lexus in India. We cannot set a definite timeline to it but we are committed to bring Lexus to India.
This is the second such positive indicator around the Lexus brand for India, in as many months. Earlier last month, Toyota India’s managing director Mr. Naomi Ishii, was quoted saying that Toyota needs Lexus in India. All said, a specific timeline for the launch of Brand Lexus in India remains sketchy.
Known for a hassle free, luxury car experience, Brand Lexus offers both cars and SUVs. However, the automaker has studiously cultivated an image of a hybrid car company, completely eschewing diesels in the process. Lexus cars that are sold abroad are either petrol powered or are petrol-electric hybrids.
In India, the luxury car segment is dominated by diesel powered cars and the lack of such an option on the Lexus is said to be one factor that is slowing down the luxury label’s Indian entry. The other factor of course, has to do with the high import duty that the Indian government slaps on cars imported through the completely built unit (CBU) route.
To get around the high import duty, Lexus will have to assemble its luxury cars in India, by means completely knocked down (CKD) kits. CKD assembly calls for decent volumes, a factor that is not certain especially given Lexus cars’ lack of diesel engines and the Indian market’s low acceptance of hybrid cars.
It will be interesting to see how Toyota resolves these seemingly conflicting signals and bring the Lexus brand to India. If and when launched in India, the Lexus range of cars and SUVs will go head to head with German, English and Swedish luxury car brands such as Audi, BMW, Mercedes Benz, Jaguar, Land Rover and Volvo respectively.