Automotive News Europe - February 2020 - 10
AUTOMOTIVE NEWS EUROPE
QA 'Better experience'
Lexus's new boss outlines autonomous, electrified plans
oji Sato became head of Lexus in January after spending the last four years
as the Toyota premium brand's chief engineer, a title he retains. Sato starts the
decade facing the same mega-challenge
as other automaker CEOs: How to prepare for the rise of electrified, autonomous, connected cars on a global level.
Lexus's strength in hybrids puts it in a
good position to meet current emissions
standards, but regulators are demanding
more. Sato outlined how he will steer the
brand through these obstacles in an interview with Automotive News Europe Associate Publisher & Editor Luca Ciferri and
Correspondent Nick Gibbs.
Addressing technology trends will
be a huge challenge. How will Lexus
look in 2030?
All the DNA of Lexus was in our debut
model, the first-generation LS [from
1989], which was quiet, comfortable
and well crafted. These three elements
are our core. As we enhance our brand
in the next 10 years, we want to always
provide a better experience for our customers. In the past, people talked about
the car based on its specifications: This
car has this fuel economy, or this acceleration time. Today the customer really
wants to have a better experience. That
means we need to provide more emotional value, and that can't be measured.
How will Lexus increase the emotional appeal of its vehicles?
Our engineers are working hard on this.
On one hand CASE [connected, autonomous, shared, electric] will have a big impact on the entire automotive industry, not
just Lexus. But we still want to be unique
and never lose sight of our brand direction
to make sure we are not making a commodity. People have said that automated
driving will make a car less enjoyable, but I
don't think so. For example, later this year
we will introduce our first-generation automated drive [based on Toyota's Automated Highway Teammate]. This development
is always trying to determine how the customer feels about it. It's OK that everything
is controlled by computers. I don't want to
Meet the boss
❚ NAME: Koji Sato
❚ TITLE: Lexus President
and Chief Engineer
❚ AGE: 50
❚ MAIN CHALLENGE:
Rapidly reacting to
say it's easy [to manufacture], but anyone
can do it. But, if the car enters a corner
at high speed, how do you feel? We want
to create a unique driving behavior, even if
it's in automated mode. That helps us create our uniqueness.
What about electrification? That has
raised similar concerns about turning
the car into a commodity.
Electrified technology is the same. The
current questions about electrified vehicles include: What is the range? What is
the battery? This is common sense. But
if you think about the future, we need
to create additional value. Enjoyment
is one. One example is the advanced
traction control in the LF30 concept [revealed at the 2019 Tokyo auto show].
That is one of the key areas where we
can create this unique vehicle behavior.
We should never forget the fun-to-drive
aspect. Some people will say the car will
be a commodity, but we don't think so.
Will we see a car by the end of the
decade with an electric motor in each
wheel like the RF30 concept?
This concept hints at our direction by the
end of 2030. We want to realize this car,
but we know some elements present
some technical difficulties. This is the
challenge. We believe if we set the bar
high, all the engineers will work to fill the
gap. This is the style of Lexus.
Lexus launches its first EV, the UX
300e compact SUV, at the end of
this year in Europe. Where else is
this car going?
China, Japan and some Asian countries.
But the main focus is Europe and China
because of high demand and [emissions] regulations.
Automotive News Europe - February 2020
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Automotive News Europe - February 2020
Automotive News Europe - February 2020 - Intro
Automotive News Europe - February 2020 - Cover1
Automotive News Europe - February 2020 - Cover2
Automotive News Europe - February 2020 - 3
Automotive News Europe - February 2020 - Contents
Automotive News Europe - February 2020 - 5
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Automotive News Europe - February 2020 - Cover3
Automotive News Europe - February 2020 - Cover4