Lexus is looking to the skies for its next project, a report says, as corporate parent Toyota seeks to compete with rival Honda for space in the private aviation segment.
Toyota's luxury subsidiary has been looking for ways to expand its role as a luxury builder into spaces other than traditional automobiles and looking to embrace mobility from a holistic standpoint, rather than just focusing on the old-fashioned single-car, single-owner approach to luxury.
"Toyota itself is trying to transform from an automotive company to a mobility company and in order to enhance the value of the Lexus brand we need to cover land, sea and also air, and therefore the yacht was a concept we thought we really need to have," Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda told Carsguide.com at the launch of its LY650 yacht in Boca Raton, Fla.
Rival Honda has been in the private aviation sphere for more than 15 years. While it does not compete in the upper end of the market for business jets, it has made its mark in terms of efficiency and range in a compact package. Its HondaJet Elite has a range of 1,437 nautical miles (up 17 percent from its previous model) and remains the most fuel-efficient in its class, along with being the fastest and highest-flying.
We suspect this is where Lexus is setting its sights. While Toyoda did not promise anything specific, he told media in attendance to keep an eye on that particular sphere.
What remains to be seen is whether Lexus will take an in-house approach to producing a jet, or look to partner with an established builder. Honda, which sees itself first and foremost as an engine builder, kept its development under the corporate umbrella. Based on Lexus' approach to yacht-building, it's possible that it could approach a third party with aviation expertise for development of an aircraft.
Lexus has also previously invested in companies that seek to produce small-scale mobility aircraft with vertical take-off and landing capabilty. Such craft have more in common with flying cars than today's business jets. While we suspect a more traditional approach will be forthcoming, we wouldn't rule out Lexus choosing to dabble in both markets.