As told to Sirish Chandran
After 2010, the last custom duty structure has not changed much so it is somewhat stabilised
But most important thing is that we understand our Toyota Innova, Camry and Fortuner owners. Actually they want to go to the luxury segment, but of course they don’t have that offer from our portfolio, so they have to go for a different brand. Every year 7000 customers are moving to other brands and we had a strong opinion from our customers to bring in the Lexus brand.
Our focus is different compared with other manufacturers
We focus after the delivery of the car. We ensure that our Lexus relationship manager, just one person, has a good interaction with the guest on service matters, insurance and ensures that he/she predicts what the next guest requirement is and ensures that all is taken care of. Our hospitality, ‘Omotenashi’ is the key for us and we make sure that the guest is always having the ‘Omotenashi’ experience.
The important thing for our brand is the hybrid electric vehicle
India is having a huge challenge like air pollution and the other challenge is the increasing demand of crude oil imports, which is giving pressure to the economy itself. Air pollution should be reduced and the budget should be under control. However, people want to have a luxury car but all the luxury cars so far offered in the market are not related to the electric segment. So we want to make sure that in this luxury space, hybrid electric vehicles can contribute to satisfying the guests needs and also the vehicle can be responsible to reduce the air pollution as well as reducing the crude oil imports.
We don’t stock the spare parts
We have Toyota production system and can use the Toyota spare parts delivery system. We can even manage parts at the right time at the right place when the customer visits. That makes our spare part costs very competitive and ensures that parts are always delivered on time. We need maximum 4 to 4.5 days to get the parts. That is of course making our costs more competitive. And our service labour rate is based on that [of Toyota] with some extra for the technology, not that big, but we are always competitive.
We don’t have the infrastructure now
If the time comes, of course we can bring the hybrid electric vehicles, plug-in electric vehicles, fuel cell vehicles – all these electrifications are there in the Lexus house. If the time comes, it is possible. Do you buy electric vehicles from Lexus now? I don’t think so, there are no charging stations, so what’s the point? I am sure the customer will not take the choice. When the time comes, when the infrastructure is ready, then we can.
We don’t compete with the competition and we don’t care [about pricing]
We have some good customer acceptance. The CEO of Lexus in the recent Tokyo motor show said we are studying [local assembly]. It’s just 7-8 months after the launch so we’ll study and if possible we will support the Make in India concept.
Good thing is that the customer knows Lexus
Most of the customers who bought our Lexus cars have a home in the US or Dubai so they understand what Lexus is, and they want the same Lexus brand in their home country. They know what kind of service and product we provide and all of them are taken care [of] and are happy. So we are living up to their expectation.
The current situation is that we have four centres in Delhi, Gurgaon, Mumbai and Bengaluru. We have four more service centres in Chandigarh, Cochin, Hyderabad and Chennai. These four can also start a guest experience centre in the near future. We are a different brand, there is no point of mixing Toyota in this. We want to make sure that customer touch point is dedicated for Lexus. In terms of service, it’s too much to invest only for Lexus. For this time and start up, we use the service shop [of Toyota], but we have a dedicated service bay for Lexus.