Tuesday, January 19, 2010
I think it’s a pretty good guess that the guy who owns this Lexus SC400 won’t be eligible for the exclusive Lexus LFA super car. It’s not that I’m assuming the person can’t come up with $350,000. Even if he could, it’s highly doubtful Lexus would let this SC400 owner buy one.
In the case of the LFA, The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Lexus has come up with some non-financial criteria for those it will let buy the LFA. According to Paul Williamson, national manager at Lexus College, Toyota’s dealer training school, "We want it to be seen on the right roads, in front of the right restaurants and not just being enjoyed by one individual in their private garage."
To make that happen, the Lexus sales team is being very picky – oh sorry, exclusive – about who it doles out its 165 or so LFAs that will make it to the United States. “People selected to purchase the car will be based on factors such as the other cars they own, where they live, and how often and where they drive,” reports the Wall Street Journal.
This obsession with exclusivity is a tactic by Lexus to make the LFA one of the most hard to get products in the automotive world and put Lexus in the same breath as super car brands like Ferrari. In fact, this strategy from Lexus reminds me a lot of the difficulties of obtaining a new Ferrari.
Ferrari typically sells its car to existing Ferrari owners as it sells the few numbers of cars it produces to the Ferrari faithful. I’m not sure the brand asks where Ferrari owners will drive the cars or how often or restrict purchases by owner location, but who knows what selection criteria may go on behind the scenes.
So do these tactics help the Lexus brand increase its perceived exclusivity in the luxury marketplace? I doubt it. If anyone can go down the street and buy a Lexus IS-F or RX400h, the whole concept of hard to get is limited to just the LFA.
The LFA, however, is an amazing halo vehicle and is sure to get the Lexus faithful and aspirational more behind the accomplishments of the brand. The halo vehicle effect will provide some bragging rights for the owners of other Lexus products. Plus the LFA is an excellent embodiment of what the fairly new “F Performance” series of products represents and that should lead to some positive brand perception to products like the IS-F and future “F Performance” vehicles.