Text and photos by Kap Maceda Aguila
IT SEEMS that the tale of Lexus in the country is underscored by a defiance of odds. On Jan. 2009, during a period of global uncertainty brought about by widespread economic turmoil, Lexus Philippines pulled the trigger on its first showroom in the country.
A vacant 4,000-square-meter lot on the corner of 8th Avenue and 34th Street in Bonifacio Global City was shorn of long grass, giving way to a splendid three-story building boasting 10,000 square meters of everything Lexus. On the second floor is a workshop with holding bays and lifters; the basement is a stockyard of vehicles waiting to be sold. But most of the attention, of course, goes to the spacious ground-floor showroom, which can display up to 10 vehicles. This main, warmly designed attraction also features an atrium garden with real balete trees and mint plants thriving under a skylight.
In 10 years since its opening, Lexus has zoomed to second place in the Philippine luxury automotive industry. “For four consecutive years now, Lexus has maintained strong leadership in SUV sales, being number one in the commercial vehicle segment. This significant growth has positioned Lexus Philippines at fourth… regionally — tied with Lexus Thailand — in terms of new car sales,” reported the company in a statement.
And the aforementioned defiance of odds? Consider that the company has been able to register this kind of performance on the back of but one showroom. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to leverage the strengths of the country’s longtime auto leader (and Lexus parent brand) Toyota and its unparalleled network. In partnership with select dealers, Lexus Philippines has extended service operations — accrediting five centers in Laguna, Pampanga, La Union, Cebu and Davao.
The opening salvo in 2009 then consisted of the LS 460 (its flagship sedan), the ES 350 executive sedan, the GS 460 sport sedan, the IS 300 compact sedan, and the LX 570 full-size SUV. At the event last week to commemorate its 10th year, Lexus Philippines formally introduced the UX crossover, joining a portfolio featuring the IS, ES, RC, GS, LC, LS, NX, RX, GX, and LX.
“Over the last 10 years, Lexus has been on a journey of product transformation. You have seen our design language change to become bolder and more distinctive. We brought a significant change in our driving dynamics that pairs seamlessly with our world renowned comfort,” said Lexus Asia Pacific executive vice president Vicente S. Socco in a speech.
Meanwhile, Lexus Philippines president Satoru Suzuki admitted that “with the inauguration of our first and only dealership, we did not expect to gain such traction immediately,” noting that, from a market share of 13% following its early days, Lexus Philippines today corners 32.2% of the luxury car market, according Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines, Inc. data.
“If you talk about dealer efficiency, we’re number one,” declared Lexus Manila president Raymond T. Rodriguez in an earlier interview with this writer. Before the industry-wide slump brought about by the implementation of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion which precipitated the increase of new car prices beginning last year, Lexus sold 1,251 new cars in 2017.
All signs point to Lexus Philippines maintaining its arc of performance. Adopting a tagline “Experience Amazing,” the brand has undergone an evolution “driven by the vision to anticipate the future for people and society.”
Mr. Suzuki promised; “It is a continuous endeavor to design innovative ways to excite and enrich lives. It is ever-present in our operations as we strive to translate this in the whole customer journey — from our products, our service, our facilities, and our team. We have a decade of good work behind us. And we promise to continue to augment the experiences we deliver in the years to come.”
It seems the odds are ever in the automaker’s favor.