The basic principles are respect for fellow workers, understanding the root cause of difficulties, perseverance and building consensus before making decisions.
After growing new sales by almost 40 per cent to 14,700 last year to become the fastest growing premium brand in the UK, Settle said 2008 would be a year of consolidation.
Despite a diesel model, the IS 220d, topping the brand’s UK sales last year, Settle said Lexus’ future focus remained very much on maintaining its dominant position in the hybrid market.
He took up his current position in 2005 having previously spent seven years with Toyota Europe.
What is the current size of Lexus’ dealer network?
How much of the network operates separately from Toyota?
We are moving towards more dedicated Lexus sites and want 75 per cent of the network to be solus by 2010. But we don’t want to push dealerships in smaller territories to be over facilitised.
Brighton, Teesside and Southend have all been relocated and we have three more sites to go to bring the entire network up to the latest standards.
Will network numbers increase?
How much investment in standards do you expect dealers to make?
Our Centre Stage programme checks the customer gets the Lexus experience. Because we are a small brand our centres help to generate brand awareness.
What is the network’s make up?
Which models drove sales growth last year?
Market forces made the 220d successful because it was the newest and cleanest car in the segment and caught the imagination of user-choosers who were sick of the 3 Series.
What’s Lexus’ long-term vision?
Who is most interested in buying Lexus hybrids?
How will you take your hybrid line-up forward?
Is there a contradiction in producing hybrid models alongside higher consumption performance petrol cars to compete with BMW’s M Series and Mercedes’ AMG?
We’re doing it because we can. It’s about engineering expertise and trying to make the best cars in the world. It doesn’t detract from our differentiation into hybrid but shows we can make stunning performance cars as well. The ISF will be launched in 2008. These products fire up the dealer network.
Will the ISF detract from Lexus’ green credentials in the UK?
We already sell more hybrid RXs than petrol and this year we’ll sell more hybrid GSs than petrol. Within three years we’ll give a hybrid option on the whole range before Mercedes is even in the market.
What is the sales forecast for 2007 and beyond?
The momentum is building and hybrid is the tool for long-term growth. It means we won’t be competing directly with BMW, Mercedes and Audi because we’ll be leading the way. Others will follow because the government will drive the market towards hybrids.
Are you concerned that Lexus slipped back in the RMIF National Franchised Dealers’ Association’s Dealer Attitude Survey?
Does Lexus appeal to young or older buyers?
Would you consider Nissan’s introduction of the Infiniti brand to the UK as a threat to Lexus?
The premium market in the UK already accounts for 20 per cent of the total so it will be difficult to establish another brand. How many customers would move from Lexus to Infiniti having already moved from a prestige German brand?
So which are your main rivals?
First Job: Technical correspondent with Fiat UK
First car: Mini
Favourite newspaper: Times and Financial Times
Favourite book: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Favourite pop group: The Eagles