According to Vernon Sarne's Manila Times article, Lexus is finally here, groundbreaking of their showroom is this weekend.
Lexus is here (seriously)
YOU are totally forgiven for wanting to take this news with a grain of salt. You have, after all, heard a lot of talk the past couple of years about the supposed arrival of Lexus in the Philippines. I myself have been guilty of repeatedly jumping the gun on Toyota’s luxury brand. To the point where people have begun tagging the story as an urban legend.
Well, guess what: Lexus is finally and truly here. As I write this, an invitation from Toyota Motor Phils. with a Lexus letterhead sits on my desk, requesting me to attend the groundbreaking ceremony for the Lexus showroom at the Fort Bonifacio Global City this weekend. The exact venue is on 34th Street of the Taguig property, right behind MC Home Depot and near the Manila Speedzone. I’m assuming that TMP has ironed out the rumored kinks in the negotiations for the 4,500 square meters of real estate on which the Lexus facility will sit.
The Lexus showroom will be the first establishment in Metrobank Corp.’s 27-hectare property in Fort Bonifacio. Construction of the facility will commence this month and should finish by the final quarter of 2008. Word has it that TMP chairman George S.K. Ty is also putting up what is bound to be the country’s tallest building near the Lexus edifice. And right across the street will soon rise Toyota’s flagship showroom. Good luck to the competition.
The high-end Lexus structure will have three floors and will house the brand’s internal offices, stockyard, service center and six-car showroom. Why a six-car display area? Because that’s exactly the number of models Lexus Phils. is introducing when it opens shop late next year. These vehicles are the 2007 World Car of the Year LS460 full-size luxury sedan; the Camry-based ES350 midsize luxury sedan; the GS460 midsize luxury sports sedan; the rear-wheel-drive IS300 compact premium sedan; the newly unveiled LX570 large SUV; and the Harrier-based and projected bread-and-butter RX350 midsize luxury crossover SUV. (At least now you know exactly what to save up for.) All these models will be completely built-up units and are made in Japan.
Needless to say, TMP is pitting the Lexus brand squarely against BMW, Volvo and Mercedes-Benz. It hopes to immediately sell about 20 units a month and eventually capture 8 percent of the luxury passenger car segment and about 13 percent of the luxury SUV segment in its first year of operation in the country. Right now, BMW lords it over the luxury segment by owning 70 percent of the passenger cars and 50 percent of the SUVs.
Lexus Phils. is a joint venture between Toyota Motor Phils. (75 percent) and Mitsui & Co. Ltd. (25 percent). According to my infallible source, current TMP first vice president for marketing Danny Isla will serve as president of the division, initially with about 30 employees to be under him.
Expect TMP to pull out all the stops in erecting the Lexus edifice. The exterior will reportedly feature a computer-controlled water fountain and a full-height showroom glass. The interior, meanwhile, will showcase a garden, first-rate customer amenities and a state-of-the-art workshop area. Expect also TMP to fully concentrate on this showroom as it stands to be the one and only Lexus dealership on our shores in the foreseeable future; Toyota does not intend to open a second Lexus showroom within the first three years of operation.
Lexus was formally launched in 1989 in the United States, with the LS400 as its very first model. Toyota advertised this car by placing champagne glasses on the hood of a running unit, clearly boasting that the engine and the ride were exceptionally smooth.
Lexus currently operates in 57 countries, with the Philippines soon becoming the 18th Asian market to sell the brand. Lexus was likewise belatedly introduced in Japan in 2005, despite the country being the company’s home base. This is because the brand was really conceptualized originally for the North American market, which presently accounts for two-thirds of Lexus’ global sales of about half a million units. Perhaps the most telling indication of Lexus’ quality is its number one position sales-wise in the luxury market in the US. For the past decade or so, Lexus has also consistently topped quality surveys in the most demanding auto market on the planet.
Asked how TMP plans to market Lexus versus BMW (sporty luxury), Volvo (safety) and Mercedes-Benz (traditional luxury), my source says Lexus will adopt the following selling points: quality, refinement and a satisfying ownership experience.
With all the political uncertainty plaguing the country right now, is this a good time for Lexus to come in? My source certainly thinks so: “If you analyze the sales trend in the auto industry, you’ll notice that even when there’s political unrest in our midst, sales of luxury vehicles remain stable; it’s sales of mass-market vehicles that get affected.” Add to this the fact that Philippine car sales for 2007 look headed for an 18-percent increase from last year—enabling total car sales to break the 100,000-unit mark for the first time since 1997—and you just have to agree that there couldn’t have been a more auspicious time to bring Lexus in.
Now that Lexus is here, could Honda’s Acura and Nissan’s Infiniti be next?
It looks like Toyota will avoid selling models here with direct injection engines just like in the UAE and China.IS300
is powered by a 3.0 liter 228hp 3GR-FE V6 engine.
In other markets they have the 204 hp IS250 with 2.5 liter 4GR-FSE V6 and a 306hp IS300 with a 2GR-FSE V6
I'm also assuming the LS460 to be sold here uses the weaker 342hp 1UR-FE 4.6 liter V8 of the GS460 instead of the 380hp 1UR-FSE used by the LS460 in other markets.
Lets wait and see...
Toyota/Lexus engine codes/models that end with...
SE = engines with gasoline direct injection
E = regular EFi engine