Lexus introduced the LX 570 Supercharger in Oman recently. Sadayoshi Koyari, Product Planning, Chief Engineer, Lexus speaks about the product which has exclusively been engineered for the Middle East in an interview with Mayank Singh .
There is a lot of excitement around the LX570 Supercharger. Can you tell us about the product and its salient features?
The unique features of the vehicle are its power which is driven by a 450 horse power engine, torque, exterior design and attractive interiors.
It is a limited edition that is being offered only in the Middle East. What is the reason for this exclusive regional launch?
Our relationship with the Middle East customer is a long and trusted one and we wanted to do something special for them which is why we decided to introduce this distinctive model in the region. The Supercharger is being built on a production line that is outside the regular line and exclusively developed for the Supercharger.
How many cars will you be supplying to the Middle East?
We will be supplying only 200 cars all across the Middle East region.
Tell us something about the exterior design and internal features?
The Supercharged Lexus LX570 flaunts unique black colours on the front including the radiator grille, lower grille, front bumper, headlamps and fog lamps bezel. On the side, the changes will reflect on the outside mirror, 20″ alloy wheels, door side moulding, roof rail and exclusive emblem. At the rear, the black hue enhances the look on the rear bumper, rear combination lamps, exclusive emblem, back door garnish and sport muffler.
On the inside too several features have been rolled out for the Supercharged LX570 from aluminium sport pedal for the accelerator and brake and the smart key feature, to a large metal plate with the Supercharger logo and illumination arranged on the inner scuff plate. For sumptuous luxury and convenience, the LX570 comes equipped with several features. In terms of interiors, personalised comfort and craftsmanship can be found throughout the cabin. The driver’s power seat features heating and available ventilation, along with 12-way adjustability. The supple leather trim is crafted from the highest-quality full-grain stocks, including available semi-aniline leather and the exclusive mahogany wood accents are individually selected for consistent colour and grain.
The Supercharger is available in four exterior colours – white pearl crystal shine, mercury gray mica, platinum silver metallic and starlight black glass flake. For the interior – ivory, black, saddle tan and black and garnet and black are available along with a red option exclusively offered for the Supercharged LX570.
Though the engine capacity is larger, the horsepower is less than the Porsche Cayenne or the Range Rover. Why is this so?
We are not looking at competing by increasing the horse power, so we have prioritised the torque to keep the current reliability. The horsepower has improved compared to the normal models but we are not keen on only improving the horsepower.
Has the injection system of the car changed?
The system is the same, but the details have changed. For example, the injection quantity at a one time has been improved, by controlling the programming.
Has the cooling systems been changed to suit the high temperatures of the Middle East region?
Yes it has been changed.
What about the suspension system?
It has been refined and been made better.
What about the braking system?
The braking pads have been changed, for improved performance.
Has the vehicle been designed and developed at the Toyota Research and Development (TRD) Lab?
The Lexus Supercharger is the same as the one developed in the US TRD, but the final touches and tunings to adjust it for the Middle East market has been done at TRD.
How important is the Middle East market for Lexus?
In terms of the Supercharger it has only been introduced in the Middle East, as an appreciation of the Middle East customer and to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the brand. The LX sell more in the Middle East compared to any other region, so as a region it is very important for Lexus.
If the Supercharger does well in the Middle East will you be introducing it in other markets too?
No there are no such plans as of now.
How is LX been doing worldwide?
In 2013, we sold 29,000 units globally, out of which 16,000 units were sold in the Middle East, which is more than 50 per cent of our global sales. In 2012 and 2013 the number of units sold was a shad less than in 2011.
Are you selling both the LX and the supercharger simultaneously in the market?
There are going to be three grades -luxury, sports and the Supercharger which is limited to 200 vehicles. So if people miss out on the Supercharger, they can go in for the sports or the luxury iterations.
Have the sales started for the Supercharger in the Middle East?
Yes. Sale and deliveries have started and our dealership in Oman – The Saud Bahwan Group – has already delivered cars in Oman. We expect to provide Oman with five to six cars very month.
The Lexus range has undergone a change in its look and feel in the last couple of years, what has necessitated this change?
The distinguishing feature of the Lexus is the Spindle Grille, though the shape varies from the GS to the IS. In 2013, the GS went through a moderate change and now almost our entire line up has the Spindle Grillle.
What can customers expect in terms of design changes and new products from Lexus? Is there anything else that you are planning in the next two years?
There is the new NX and the new RC Coupe and the RC F Sport which were displayed at the Tokyo Motor Show in November 2013.
What about environmentally friendly cars?
Environmentally friendly cars are being driven by regulatory issues and this is an important issue which we are considering deeply. We are looking at bringing in models that offer better fuel efficiency. The complete idea is on the table and it will be discussed. Lexus has the biggest line-up of hybrids. We started hybrids way back in 1992 and we have sold over six million hybrid worldwide including Toyota and Lexus. We are the pioneers in terms of hybrids and carbon emissions. Now we are creating the fuel cell using hydrogen, so we are very pro-active when it comes to being environmentally friendly. We have hybrid models in GS, LS and RX models. So almost half of our line-up offers hybrids. For us hybrids are not only about fuel efficiency or carbon dioxide emissions but also about performance, because you have the conventional engines and also the electrical motor. So we are achieving a balance between fuel efficiency, carbon emissions and performance at the same time.
What would you like to convey to the Omani customer, regarding the Supercharger?
The LX Supercharger is a reflection of our appreciation of the Middle East customer, who is the biggest supporter of the LX globally. That’s why we decided to introduce the LX Supercharger in the region as a limited edition. Globally, circumstances have started to change, but even in that situation we want to improve the product itself, to make the customer more satisfied. That’s why we need more feedback from customers in the market to utilise it for the next planning stages.
Can you share global turnover figure for Lexus?
In 2013, we sold 533,000 worldwide. Our three biggest markets are the US, China and the third group which includes Japan, Europe and the Middle East.