Last year, AutoIndustriya published a story about Lexus possibly working on their own version of the Alphard, Toyota's most luxurious executive minivan.
We actually received numerous calls and texts from the company to take down the story, but we kept it up given that the assessment made by one of their dealer principals wasn't far fetched at all. Lexus has traditionally upscaled certain Toyota models like the Land Cruiser to become the LX570, the Prado to become the GX460, and previous generation Camry models to become the ES350.
Now from the looks of it, Lexus has something interesting: the company has just released the first image of what could be a minivan, something that the Philippine market (among others) has been clamoring for. Well, the photo was just a vignette of the fascia of the model.
The information from Lexus comes from China, as they are preparing to launch a new series of models at the Shanghai International Auto Show which opens in mid-April.
Now the actual information released by Lexus was very minimal and had to be translated from Chinese. Below is the text as translated by Google:
At the 2019 Shanghai International Auto Show, Lexus will usher in the latest in the world. At that time, we will explore the unknown, create extraordinary, and dialogue ourselves with your spiritual space carrying temperature and collection time. On April 16th, 2019, I will meet you at the Shanghai International Auto Show. Together, I will see you.
So it's not much and it makes little sense unless you're a fan of poetry, but the most striking bit of it is spiritual space carrying temperature.
This was also echoed by Lexus Taiwan, which released a Facebook post with the new model using the caption: The Luxury of Space.
The logical vehicle for Lexus to work on would be the Alphard; already the most luxurious minivan in the Toyota line up. A luxury minivan is perhaps the single most important model missing in the Lexus line, as they have already completed their range of crossovers and SUVs, as well as their saloon car and sports car line up.
Another positive indicator that it is a luxury van or MPV is the launch country. Like the Philippines, China is awash with chauffeur-driven vehicles, so much so that carmakers actually engineer long-wheelbase versions of many popular models; up to and including stretched compact sedans. Holding the premiere of a luxury Lexus van/minivan/MPV appears to be a logical fit for the Chinese market.
When Toyota launched the Alphard into the Philippine market in 2010, we had already been asking Lexus executives when their version would come. We didn't think we'd have to wait almost 9 years, but something tells us a spacious Lexus in a country wherein luxury cars are driven by family chauffeurs could be very successful, as evidenced by the success of the Alphard.