TTAC - The Lexus LS-F is a Mistake

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, May 23, 2008.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Great landing, wrong airport.

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    By Robert Farago
    May 23, 2008

    The fastest way to kill an automotive brand: sell a POS. The bloodletting caused by a brand new clunker can be spectacular. Anyone remember the 1981 Cadillac Fleetwood V-8-6-4? How about the Cimarron? It has taken Caddy more than 20 years to climb back from that double debacle if, indeed, they have. But there’s another, slower and more insidious way to ruin a storied car brand: distraction. When a carmaker builds a vehicle that muddies the marque’s core message, it mortgages its future. To wit, the Lexus LS-F.

    Of course, the Porsche Cayenne used to personify the problem– before the sports car maker released its SUV. Once the Cayenne smashed sales records, purists’ caviling quieted. How can you argue with success? Never mind the long-term effects on branding. Never mind that Porsche’s using the money to buy VW. The market has spoken. Which reminds me of the old punch line, “We’re just quibbling over price.”

    Talk to me in ten years, when the bloom is off the rose. Meanwhile, building a car that’s a genre too far is one thing. Offering a product that completely betrays your brand values is another. I don’t need to resurrect my arguments against the so-not-a-luxury-car Lexus IS-F. Actually, I do. The new LS-F supercar takes the exact same mistake made by the IS-F to the next level, combing brand betrayal with yet another cardinal sin for automotive brand managers: the halo car.

    Like anything else, there are halo cars and there are halo cars. There’s the deeply misguided (I don’t have the money to buy a Nissan GT-R so I guess I’ll buy a Maxima instead) and the just plain dumb (who the Hell can afford THAT?). The best way to separate the wheat from the carbon fiber titanium-covered chaff (needed at those speeds): the price difference between the halo car and the next model down. Discounting aesthetic, genre and brand focus differences, the larger the price gap, the more ill-fated the endeavor.

    The Lexus LS-F will sticker for a cool $225k. The next model down, the LS600h hybrid sedan, costs $104,900. The $120,100 price gap elevates the LS-F from desirable range topper to WTFer– and dooms it to failure.

    Just ask Daimler, whose slated-for-execution Mercedes McLaren SLR AMG supercar was a major flop at $495k (not including discount). Or Porsche, whose $440k Carrera GT ceased production 230 cars shy of its stated sales target. And these are brands with heritage, whose prestige and racing history makes their stratospherically-priced products inherently collectible.

    The counter-argument is entirely emotional. Supposedly, all halo cars cast an unquantifiable glow over the brand’s more prosaic products. The LS-F will drop-kick Lexus’ stodgy image, making all Lexi more appealing. If I was a Lexus stockholder, I’d be uncomfortable with any multi-million dollar investment based on psycho-babble. If I was a brand manager, I’d want statistical proof that Lexus’ image is somehow lacking amongst owners or intenders, and that a supercar would rectify this theoretical problem.

    Toyota is a wealthy company. They can afford to make mistakes like the LS-F without losing any metaphorical sleep. But it is a particular KIND of blunder, one that reveals a dangerous new turn in ToMoCo’s corporate attitude.

    Speaking of baseless psychological speculation, I believe that building and selling a supercar is a bold statement of corporate health and vitality. Can you imagine Ford releasing its $140k GT now? A halo/supercar says to the world, look at us! THIS is what we can do! (Or never mind the Focus, THIS is what we can do!) But there’s a fine line between being bold and hubris, and hubris and stupidity.

    This is why Toyota has cultivated a corporate culture based on paranoia. Fear keeps you focused. You never, ever forget the downsides of any of your potential actions. You always look for the safest option– especially when you’re doing something dangerous. Traditionally, the Toyota Way follows Sun Tzu’s dictate: never to fight a battle unless you know you’re going to win. It’s not for nothing the first Lexus looked like a Mercedes E-Class.

    The new Tundra’s sales targets represented a huge miscalculation by the Japanese automaker’s product planners that will cost Toyota billions. And now, the LS-F boldly goes where Toyota has never gone before, both in terms of money and image. Why? For what are they trying to compensate? Lexus would have been far better off transforming their dopey SC into a credible Mercedes SL challenger. Or continuing to refine what they already have. Or just sending their loyal customers a nice “thank you” service voucher.

    I know TTAC’s Best and Brightest welcome automotive excellence in all its forms. But sometimes excellence is boring, and comes from slow, steady progress. It’s a lesson Toyota taught the world. The LS-F is another step towards unlearning it.

    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/the-lexus-ls-f-is-a-mistake/
     
  2. Xin

    Xin OT Supporter

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    Oh look, an anti-import car thread by Trishield, what a surprise.
     
  3. BLoG

    BLoG Scented Meat

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    225k!!!!

    HOLY FUCK
     
  4. Divine

    Divine OT Supporter

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    I'll take the LF-A instead
     
  5. Captain Amazing

    Captain Amazing OT Supporter

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    Nissan GTR > that > chevy
     
  6. Divine

    Divine OT Supporter

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    does Trishield only post pro-domestic articles and bash anything that is foreign? What is his motivation for this?
     
  7. 1JZSC

    1JZSC OT Supporter

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    of course its a mistake
    its not american :rolleyes:
     
  8. Captain Amazing

    Captain Amazing OT Supporter

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    Works for chevy
     
  9. Divine

    Divine OT Supporter

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    and :hsugh: at calling a car a mistake that hasn't even debuted yet

    god forbid Toyota tries to make a few supercars
     
  10. 1JZSC

    1JZSC OT Supporter

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    .
     
  11. Xin

    Xin OT Supporter

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    It's his agenda.

    It fails though because anyone with common sense knows Imports > Domestic.
     
  12. SAKU39

    SAKU39 OT Supporter

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    Fixed
     
  13. Captain Amazing

    Captain Amazing OT Supporter

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    ban
     
  14. Tomash

    Tomash Active Member

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    $225k for that. :rofl:
     
  15. Mugatu

    Mugatu Ask me about market research. OT Supporter

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    Nice 350Z convertible.
     
  16. guest

    guest 

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    it's a Toyota so its worth every penny
     
  17. BLKDVLGSX

    BLKDVLGSX OT Supporter

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    whoever wrote that is a fucking moran
     
  18. Shiva Chaos

    Shiva Chaos i see boobies!

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    why bother produce the ls-f if their toyota/subie 300hp sub 2500 coupe is on the way
     
  19. Cjlhdevil

    Cjlhdevil New Member

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    How are the SLR and CGT flops?
     
  20. Xin

    Xin OT Supporter

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    They aren't American dude, anything other than a corvette or a viper is a 'flop'
     
  21. Jester

    Jester OT Supporter

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    They lost a ton of money, I'd imagine.
     
  22. Cjlhdevil

    Cjlhdevil New Member

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    So did vw on the veyron

    These cars were made to be standout cars rather than profitable ones surely..
     
  23. Jester

    Jester OT Supporter

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    Most of what he said seemed logical enough. He might be wrong, but he didn't sound like a dumbass or anything.
     
  24. camaudio

    camaudio TALL. WHITE. BAIT. OT Supporter

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    i read all that!
     
  25. cedric

    cedric I don't have a contract

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    I don't see how anyone would spend 225K on a Lexus/Toyota when you can get a Ferrari or Lambo for the same money :ugh:
     

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