In an interview for USA Today, Mark Templin, Lexus sales chief for the US, said the Japanese automaker will regain the automotive lead in the United States, but only partially due to the more aggressive new look of their models.
Templin says that the dramatic changes in the auto industry may work in Lexus’ favor. With the tough emission regulations coming into play in the next few years, Lexus’ rivals, BMW and Mercedes, are forced to roll out new compact and subcompact premium automobiles.
Templin believes these new products will be a distraction for the two German companies as well marketing challenge to introduce them to their customers accustomed to the large and powerful BMW vehicles.
Just recently, Mercedes-Benz unveiled a new A-Class Concept, while BMW is working on a new series of vehicles that will share their underpinnings with the future MINI platform. Last week, Ian Robertson, BMW board member responsible for sales and marketing, said BMW and MINI will expand their offerings with six to nine new compact class cars. “We want to grow in the premium small car and compact segment with the BMW and Mini,” explains Ian Robertson, BMW board member for sales and marketing.” The logical step is therefore the extension down to a compact car family called UKL (lower compact car) that there is currently not offered by BMW and Mini.
Lexus, Templin says, doesn’t have that problem because unlike the others, Lexus is owned by Toyota, which can cover the brand’s small-car issues. To refute Templin’s statement, BMW USA boss Jim O’Donnell says BMW won’t have any problems developing new products while continuing to deliver the products for which the brand is known. “We ‘re not interfering with the resources devoted to bigger cars,” he says. O’Donnell also points out that BMW customers are significantly younger than those of Lexus, a demographic that BMW has been targeting recently with the introduction of the highly-successful X1 SAV.
First lineup of vehicles to be based on the new UKL architecture is the next generation MINI. Dubbed F56, similar to the nomenclature used by BMW vehicles, the third-generation MINI will come to market in 2013. The UKL-based vehicles will sit below the 1 Series family. This product family aims to offer similar technical options for different body types.