A Lexus yacht: Carmaker’s pursuit of Pizzazz to catch Mercedes

Lexus thinks it lastly has a solution to meet up with Mercedes in luxury-car gross sales: go into the high-end boat enterprise.

Toyota Motor Corp.’s premium model plans to start out promoting a 65-foot (20-meter) ultra-luxury yacht within the U.S. within the second half of subsequent yr. The vessel, introduced at a ship present final week in

Yokohama, could have room for 15 friends, three bedrooms with their very own washrooms, plus separate quarters for crew. Govt Vice President Shigeki Tomoyama wouldn’t reveal the boat’s worth, however mentioned it will likely be corresponding to others in its class. (Sunseeker’s 66-foot Manhattan goes for about $3 million.)

For Lexus, taking to the water is much less about promoting massive, stunning boats — the market is tiny — than it’s about including luster to a model that’s misplaced a few of its shine. Lexus hasn’t held the lead in high-end U.S. automobile gross sales for nearly a decade. In the meantime, mass-market automakers are closing the standard hole and the shift towards autonomous driving and vehicle-sharing threaten to show automobiles into utilitarian people-movers.

“What this does is increase Lexus’ luxurious quotient,” mentioned Jaqui Lividini, founding father of Lividini & Co., a New York-based model technique agency. “I imply, what’s extra luxurious than a yacht?”

A picture makeover at Lexus might be so as. Because it ended an 11-year run because the U.S.’s top-selling luxurious automobile model in 2010, it’s been outpaced by BMW AG and Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz, which has been sooner to shift towards the sports-utility automobiles that Individuals love. In 2017, U.S. gross sales of Lexus sedans dropped by 1 / 4 and the Japanese model bought about 10 p.c fewer automobiles than market-leader Mercedes.

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To catch up, Lexus this month unveiled a brand new ultra-compact utility automobile, the UX, on the Geneva auto present. It additionally added a three-row variant to its RX line of larger crossovers, redesigned its flagship LS sedan and launched a modern new sports activities automobile to attract individuals into dealerships, the LC coupe.

Apart from the brand new {hardware}, the corporate can be taking a distinct advertising tack, making an attempt to recast itself because the purveyor of a luxurious life-style, not simply high-end automobiles. To do this, the corporate final yr jettisoned the “pursuit of perfection” slogan it had been utilizing for many years and adopted a brand new one: “expertise wonderful.” The brand new tagline is supposed to attraction to rich shoppers who, research present, are spending much less on stuff and extra on actions.

Which brings us to the boat.

“In the event you take a look at boating, you’re not shopping for a shell, you’re shopping for an expertise,” says Pamela Danziger, proprietor of analysis agency Unity Advertising and marketing. “There’s a complete life-style that goes together with it.

So, to me, it makes an amazing quantity of sense.”

Lexus hasn’t unveiled its yacht design but, however Tomoyama says many of the particulars have been labored out and it’s now within the manufacturing starting stage. A clue to the way it might look is an early sketch the chief revealed at a Tokyo occasion final Could, which appeared to point out three decks and borrow closely from the identical swooping traces utilized in a 42-foot one-off idea yacht that

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Lexus placed on show final January.

“Enhancing the standard of the automobiles themselves is vital, however we additionally have to current automobile homeowners with a dream-like imaginative and prescient of the posh life-style,” Tomoyama mentioned eventually week’s boat present. “A yacht is a really efficient a part of that.”

Just like the idea craft, the brand new boat might be engineered by Toyota Marine, a enterprise that’s been round since 1990, and manufactured by the Marquis-Carver Yacht Group in Pulaski, Wisconsin. However whereas the smaller vessel was made completely of a carbon-fiber composite, the 65-footer might be made with a mixture of supplies that lowers prices.

Lexus isn’t the one carmaker dipping its toe within the water — Mercedes in 2016 began promoting its personal limited-edition yacht and BMW has been enjoying with idea crafts since a minimum of 2011 — however the Japanese luxurious model is the one one which’s dedicated to mass manufacturing.

Robert Passikoff, founding father of New York-based advertising consultancy Model Keys Inc., says he likes the technique of utilizing massive boats to promote extra luxurious automobiles.

“Simply the truth that the boat is there might reinforce values which might be vital for the automotive class — like velocity,” he mentioned. “It turns into extra emotional, and also you form of go, ‘Nicely, I can’t afford one million greenback boat, however a $80,000 automobile? That I can afford.”’