Lexus, Infiniti luxury car brands find ways to combat Tesla, German rivals

Toyota Lexus LC500

Japanese luxury car brands Lexus and Infiniti used the Detroit auto show to check new methods to regain momentum against Germany’s prominent automakers and Silicon Valley’s Tesla Inc.

Toyota Motor’s Lexus brand revealed at Detroit its “LF-1 Limitless” concept SUV model, signaling that Lexus may begin to focus more on SUVs than its traditional large sedans.

The LF-1 proposed a mix of an aggressive, streamlined profile with a system called “Chauffeur mode” which enables the driver to take hands off the wheel and let the SUV deal with the most of the driving.

The LF-1’s likewise previews a futuristic navigation innovation that anticipates where the driver is going based on driving routines and history, and gives hotel recommendations or other concierge services.

“We do not wish to be the ‘race car’ brand; we do not want to be the ‘quiet ride’ brand. We want to be the brand which is emotionally connected with the consumer,” stated Cooper Ericksen, vice president of U.S. marketing for Lexus.

The Japanese luxury brands are battling to pick up speed in the U.S. luxury market as Volkswagen’s Audi brand and Mercedes-Benz have broadened sales, and Tesla has provided a fresh alternative to the recognized brands.

Last year the Lexus brand suffered a 7.6 percent dropped in U.S. sales last year. At Honda Motor’s Acura luxury brand, 2017 sales dropped 3.9 percent from 2016. Nissan Motor’s Infiniti pushed up sales by 11.3 percent, primarily by selling nearly two times as many sport utility vehicles as cars. However, Infiniti’s overall 2017 sales of 153,415 vehicles put it behind the leading Germany luxury car brands, along with Acura, Lexus and General Motors’s Cadillac brand.

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