Lexus Has a Design Overhaul

Lexus Has a Design Overhaul
Lexus Has a Design Overhaul

Toyota's global design chief has announced his plans to push the Japanese automaker's premium Lexus brand with an all new design philosophy, Reuters originally reported on Saturday.

Tokuo Fukuichi, Lexus' global chief, says the design shock-therapy gives the brand the stand-out looks it previously lacked.

 While some industry rivals and design experts say the jagged-edged, trapezoid grille is downright ugly, 63-year-old Fukuichi stands by the drastic makeover, saying it will give Lexus a "unique" edge over German rivals BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz particularly in competitive emerging markets such as China, where buyers will pay more for a car that stands out from the crowd.

Fukuichi, who was brought back to Toyota from a subsidiary in 2011 and as he was recovering from cancer, says Toyota for too long designed cars by committee – often of several dozen people.

"When CEO Akio Toyoda asked me to come back, he told me he wanted to make our cars cool. That meant he thought our cars weren't sexy," Fukuichi added, explaining his introduction back then of the head-turning grille.

In an interview ahead of next week's Shanghai autoshow, Fukuichi said Lexus was still not at "a gold medal winning level on the global stage," versus leading German brands and the likes of Jaguar ,Maserati and Aston Martin.

For Lexus, that look is the spindle grille, which made its quiet, tentative debut in the Lexus CT in 2010 and was later incorporated into the redesigned Lexus GS.

It upset more than a few. At a mid-2012 shareholders' meeting, one angry Toyota shareholder complained the new Lexus "face" was giving the brand a bad reputation. Even some Lexus insiders likened the new look to an ugly deep-sea creature.