Toyota's luxury division isn't about to judge a Book by its cover.
Luxury automakers have been falling all over themselves to launch subscription programs as an alternative to the traditional buy-or-lease proposition. But Lexus, for one, is in no rush to jump onboard that particular bandwagon.
Lexus isn't going to "panic and jump in just to jump in," marketing chief Cooper Ericksen told Automotive News at the LA Auto Show last week. "I think there's a lot of unanswered questions about how you take a depreciating asset and have a revenue model that is good for the consumer and good for the brand over the long term of that asset."
Toyota's luxury brand may be on to something, considering that its American rival recently suspended its Book by Cadillac program. But other import brands like Mercedes, BMW, Porsche, and Volvo continue to test similar programs in various markets.
The closest that Lexus has gotten is with the Complete Lease program, which combines a two-year lease with insurance, maintenance, wheel and tire protection, and telematics services. But unlike its rivals, Lexus is only offering Complete Lease on one model (the new UX subcompact crossover), and it lets dealers set the final price.
Dealers may be the ultimate deciding factor on how Lexus will (or will not) proceed with a more comprehensive subscription model. "Some brands are taking the Tier 1 approach of, 'We'll handle everything, and you deliver the vehicle,' and I don't think that's a road we're going to go down," Ericksen told Automotive News. "The most consistent feedback we get from dealers on the idea of subscriptions is: 'Please don't take away our ability to have this one-on-one relationship with a guest. We value that, and we want to maintain that.'"