The obsession with vans is real. Everybody wants a piece of the action because everyone knows that no matter how good or bad the economy is, there will always be a need for people and things to be moved around. Could Lexus be tossing its hat in the ring?
Toyota has no known plans for a premium van, but there’s one group of people who want to see that happen: Lexus dealers. Their rationale, according to Automotive News, is that rich people in Asian countries find the Toyota Century limousine “too confining.” Just remember, whenever you find yourself down on your luck, there’s a Japanese oligarch worse off than you.
They need their vehicles to be mobile office spaces, impromptu meeting rooms, executive committee shuttle buses and emergency catnap and clothes-changing venues.
And they need to do it in style.
“If I go out to dinner with four people, I can’t take my chauffeured LS,” the dealer complains. Instead, he takes his Toyota Alphard van, with decidedly less panache. “There is space to change my clothes, and I can go to a funeral and a wedding in the same day.”
It sounds ridiculous on the surface, but this makes perfect business sense. I once talked to one of Mercedes’ chief executiveswho remarked that many Mercedes Sprinter customers only purchase that van — and not the equally priced Freightliner Sprinter, or the Dodge Sprinter from the DaimlerChrysler days — because it has the three-pointed star on the hood. And secondhand owners of Freightliners and Dodges would replace those badges with Mercedes badges, something mechanics would immediately notice when they were serviced.
I’d imagine Toyota would earn that same kind of cachet if they started making Lexus vans, but we all know what happens when we beg Toyota for a dream product and they finally give it to us.