Lexus president - Tokuo Fukuichi - 2014 copy

Lexus “Banishes Bland” says new President, Tokuo Fukuichi

See also:
Inside the Lexus Design Center
Lexus LF-NX: Designed to Stand Out

At an exclusive preview of Lexus’s exciting new NX compact crossover SUV at the Milan Design Week, newly installed Lexus president Tokuo Fukuichi spoke candidly about Lexus design becoming even stronger and more distinctive in the future. Fukuichi was the former global design boss for Toyota, and as we discovered, merely making ‘nice’ designs is out, and ‘impressive’ is firmly in… Tokuo Fukuichi was speaking to Guy Bird.

Q: Will you push Lexus design even more strongly now you are the overall president too?
A: Tokuo Fukuichi: From now on I don’t want to create nice designs, I want to create impressive designs, ones that remain in minds. I should add that Lexus already started taking this turn since a couple of years, with the spindle grille as symbol heralding the change, plus acclaimed coupe concepts LF-LC LF-CC and LF-NX, now the production models IS, RC and RC F, and of course NX. But in future, we will push even harder.

That’s great to hear, do you think Lexus still needs to stand out more?
A: We do a lot of surveys and what we find is that in the past, Lexus has created cars that nobody really dislikes. They’re liked by everybody… but they’re not really loved. They don’t remain impressed in people’s hearts and minds, and that’s the main point I want to change, in part by giving new characteristics to the front face.

Q: Is there a danger your new presidential role will distract you from designing these great new cars? How much time will be left for design?
A: I’d like to give about 80% of my time to design, but I think that’s not realistic, it will probably be about 50-60%. What [Toyota Motor Corporation CEO] Akio Toyoda wants from me is to improve the Lexus brand image. He doesn’t really want me to do management. I have very valuable and precious collaborators, so I’m confident they’ll help me to deal with the management and sales part.

Q: What steps are you taking to enhance the Lexus brand further?
A: It’s important to improve market share but it’s not my main focus as I think keeping and improving on very high performance, quality and safety will create a strong and attractive brand image. And when you have a strong brand image, sales will improve naturally. We also have to change the body style to a low and stable-sided one, which will help performance. Creating a completely new body architecture that no other car brand has is very important in terms of design.

Q: In terms of your earlier ‘nice’ vs ‘impressive’ analogy, the 2013 LF-NX concept was extremely bold, indeed some critics thought it went too far to stand out. Why did you make it so dramatic?
A: We did this on purpose, we chose the most difficult idea. It was a show model, but still from now on we would like to create cars that impress and surprise people, and most important of all, we won’t follow any other brand.

See also:
Inside the Lexus Design Center
Lexus LF-NX: Designed to Stand Out

Comments (6)

  1. Two areas for improvement across all new Lexus vehicles including IS, RC & NX.
    1. front overhang – needs to be reduced.
    2. wheel size – needs to be enlarged.

  2. Unlike the Germans, sales volume isn’t everything at Lexus.

    The brand’s image and strength, long-term, is what counts. They know how to build great cars. Now they’re learning how to make great designs. Lexus’ brand will only get stronger as the Germans desperately try to one-up each other for the next sale, while sliding downmarket…..

    “I walks a higher path, son.” – Denzel Washington in “Training Day”
    BD

  3. i believe this to be an important step in the evolution of Lexus. In the past our vehicles have been ranged from attractive to bland to down right ugly. We have always made the finest cars the world has ever seen in terms of dependability, safety, smoothness and quietness, but we have never made exciting cars. A great many people want a vehicle to just be reliable and safe but many others also want a car that engages them emotionally. We are now beginning down that path. Just as we once made only luxury cars, now we also make performance cars. Just as humans are not only logical but emotional as well, we can now appeal to both sides of the human experience.

  4. Very nice move Lexus. This is something most business have forgotten, the product/service itself. Sure it is not enough, but if it is good, sales (implying profit) will improve without much need of marketing and other measure like cost saving, as we can see BMW do. A BMW E46 is of better quality than a BMW F30. Continue this way, and don’t follow others.

  5. When he say “In the future we will push even harder”, I think he’s thinking to the next LS generation, is gonna be an huge departure from the current model and probably it’ll get a lots of clamor just like the 2001 Chris Bangle 7 Series did if not even more.

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