If there was an indicator as to the potential of a minivan in the Philippines that's even more luxurious than the Alphard, then this is it.
When Lexus insiders told us about the price of the Lexus LM, the more upscale version of its cousin from Toyota, we thought that they'll sell a few but not a lot given the price. We were even told that the sales executives at Lexus Manila were a bit skeptical, given the logic of trying to justify a vehicle that costs about PhP 1.5 million more than its already luxurious Toyota counterpart, as well as another version that costs PhP 5 million more, but with just 4 seats.
Well, we can tell you that the price didn't matter to the clientele as we've just been informed that Lexus already has about 300 firm pre-orders for the Lexus LM. And counting.
We were also told that about 200 of those orders are for the 2020 Lexus LM 7-Seater with a price tag of PhP 5,408,000. That means the remaining 100 orders are allocated for the even more upscale 2020 Lexus LM 4-Seater variant priced at PhP 9,088,000; essentially, it's a limousine, albeit bigger.
Here's the thing though: Lexus sales executives had already been informing customers about the launch of the Lexus LM in order to get reservations even before they received the final pricing. That's the standard operating procedure for the luxury segment in order to generate interest, but normally when they do declare the pricing, a few have a tendency to back out from the sale.
In the case of the LM, however, no clients backed out once they got the pricing, so said our insiders. Conservatively, that represents about PhP 2 billion in gross sales for Lexus.
All LM units are made in Japan, and the 3.5-liter engines qualify for JPEPA which makes Philippine-spec models more affordable than foreign counterparts being offered in other markets like China and Thailand.
This also presents a bit of a problem (albeit a good one) for Lexus: we were also informed that the first year's allocation of the LM from Japan will be about 200 units. That means about 100 customers will have to wait a bit longer. Our source tells us though that given the situation in China, Lexus might reconsider and re-allocate more units to the Philippines that were originally meant for PRC customers.
The LM is slated for launch later this year, but without any hybrid options for now. All models will have Lexus Safety Sense.
As to when Lexus Philippines will launch the LM, we can't be certain. The situation with the virus outbreak is a major safety concern, and is adversely affecting global production, shipping, and not to mention economies.