With almost all luxury carmakers present in India, the absence of Lexus has been a talking point for a while now. With numerous rumours over the years, nothing turned into reality but all of that is set to change as Toyota has reportedly decided to launch its luxury brand Lexus in India, sometime in early 2017. Along with a reported entry of Lexus in India, we also have an official statement from Toyota Kirloskar Motor, which doesn’t accept but doesn’t deny the arrival of Lexus either. A company spokesperson said, “It is true that we are studying introducing Lexus to India. However, we would like to refrain from commenting on details such as timing, models etc., as it relates to future product plan.”
It’s not the first time that Toyota has made a decision to launch Lexus in India. Back in 2013, there was news of Lexus coming to India as an imports operation but an unfavourable import duty rate of 100%, meant that car imported by Lexus wouldn’t be price-competitive since its German rivals already had assembly operations here.
Fast forward to today and the import duty hasn’t been cut but hybrid/electric vehicles attract significantly lesser import duties. Lexus is looking to take advantage of this relaxation through a strong portfolio of hybrid vehicles. In addition, the recently announced FAME (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid & Electric Vehicles) will incentivise hybrid vehicles up a maximum of Rs 1.38 lakh, bringing down the selling-price further. As a result of these policies, Lexus should be able to price its vehicles close to its German rivals, while being able to claim higher fuel-efficiency and lower emissions. In addition, these hybrid vehicles from Lexus would also be exempt from the NGT’s (National Green Tribunal) ongoing crackdown on diesel vehicles, especially those equipped with an engine larger than 2,000 cc.
Autocar India has claimed in its report that Lexus will first launch its LX 570 SUV, which is based on the Land Cruiser SUV. This would be followed by a lineup of hybrid models including SUVs and sedans. The performance of Lexus should be interesting to watch unfold as it would also indicate how well luxury-segment customers are willing to accept hybrids and a shift of engineering focus from performance and comfort to efficiency.