It’s been a tough year for Lexus, Toyota’s luxury brand slipping behind BMW in the U.S. sales sweepstakes. Part of the problem has been the aftermath of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that crippled the Japanese auto industry, but industry observers also warn that potential buyers may be shifting to other luxury brands in search of more passionate products.
With that in mind, Lexus is out to reinvent itself, declared Akio Toyoda, the CEO of Toyota Motor Co., during a speech in Pebble Beach, California Thursday night. The executive’s relatively rare American appearance underscored the importance of the 2013 Lexus GS sedan which was given a splashy preview during the lead-up to the weekend’s annual Concours d’Elegance.
“This is the first car to wear the new face of Lexus,” the executive, the grandson of Toyota’s founder, proclaimed. But the new sedan is more than just a new styling exercise, Toyoda added. It is the result of an intensive effort designed to get more in touch with the brand’s customers and, as such, “Lexus is leading the way in how the entire Toyota Motor Company should operate.”