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Lexus India boss: Constantly evaluating the right time to launch an EV in India

Lexus India President PB Venugopal talks about the brand’s future plans, pumping-up localisation efforts and partaking in the electric vehicle revolution.

October 30, 2021 / 06:48 PM IST
Lexus ES300h

Lexus ES300h

At the inauguration of its fourth Guest Experience Centre (GEC) in the country, everything appears to be quintessentially Lexus. Located at SV Road Mumbai, the new centre, is a sprawling oasis of calm, with design cues inspired from the brand’s own signature flourishes and Mumbai’s coastal connect. As a brand that locks horns with German luxury brands, Lexus India has had to distinguish itself in certain key ways. Their portfolio consists almost entirely of hybrids, which attract, in equal measure, the ecologically as well as the economically conscious. Being a Toyota-owned brand, Lexus cars are also considerably easier to maintain. But what the folks at Lexus India pride themselves over the most, is the brand’s fastidious attention to detail that takes a keen and discerning eye to appreciate. With the recent launch of the updated ES300h, and the impending arrival of the crossover NX, the question arises: are customers sitting up and taking notice of brand Lexus? Lexus India President PB Venugopal has the answers.

Edited excerpts from the interview:

Q: Has customer response become better, with the local assembly of the Lexus ES300h? Are people warming up to hybrids more than before?

A: The response has been great. It’s much better than what we’d anticipated. Some of our Lexus “guests” who have been using the CBU model along with the locally assembled one find the suspension much better on the latter, along with the ride comfort. As for hybrids, before we launched in 2017, one of our hypotheses was that we should enter India, and we should do something to craft a better tomorrow. We should always do something that will contribute to a better environment. It was a conscious decision to come up with a complete range of self-charging hybrid vehicles. At that point of time, during our first year of evaluation we saw that 40 percent of our customers bought the car because it was a hybrid vehicle. Today if we go back to the same kind of evaluation, that percentage has increased to about 80% and this spike has occurred post the first lockdown. So when we dig deeper into this, we realise that Lexus customers are becoming very environmentally conscious. This gives us the confidence that we are heading in the right direction. When we demonstrate our self-charging hybrid tech, guests are very happy that it runs on 40 percent petrol and 60 percent electric (should the driving conditions prove ideal).