Here are edited excerpts.
Q: How will Lexus look in 2030?
A: All the DNA of Lexus was in our debut model, the first-generation LS, which was quiet, comfortable and well crafted. These three elements are our core. As we enhance our brand in the next 10 years, we want to always provide a better experience for our customers. ... That means we need to provide more emotional value.
How will Lexus increase that emotional appeal?
Our engineers are working hard on this. On one hand CASE [connected, autonomous, shared, electric] will have a big impact on the entire auto industry, not just Lexus. But we still want to be unique and never lose sight of our brand direction to make sure we are not making a commodity.
People have said that automated driving will make a car less enjoyable, but I don't think so.
For example, later this year, we will introduce our first-generation automated drive. This development is always trying to determine how the customer feels about it.
What about similar concerns that electrification will turn the car into a commodity?
Electrified technology is the same. The current questions about electrified vehicles include: What is the range, what is the battery? This is common sense. But we need to create additional value.
One example is the advanced traction control in the LF30 concept (revealed at the 2019 Tokyo auto show). That is one of the key areas where we can create this unique vehicle behavior.
We should never forget the fun-to-drive aspect.
Will we see a Lexus by the end of the decade with an electric motor in each wheel, like the RF30 concept?
This concept hints at our direction by the end of 2030. We want to realize this car, but we know some elements present some technical difficulties.
Lexus launches its first EV, the UX 300e compact SUV, at the end 2020. Where will it sell?
China, Japan and some [other] Asian countries. But the main focus is Europe and China because of high demand and [emissions] regulations.
Why not the U.S.?
We sell the UX in the U.S., but there is no plan to introduce an EV variant because there is no demand there. ... Our fundamental strategy for electrified technology is, "Right place, right timing, right price."
Could Lexus add a model below the UX?
We need to investigate whether there is any opportunity in the (subcompact)B-segment. ... But the U.S.? No chance.
Could it work as electric only?
There is some opportunity. Many manufacturers are developing short-range EVs for this segment.
What level is Lexus' first autonomous-capable car that launches this fall?
It will start from Level 2, but it will have over-the-air updates so that in the future, we will update the level.
Will the customer pay extra for the update?
It's not decided yet.
Will it use lidar?
When do you plan to offer over-the-air technology?
It won't be this year, but sometime in the future. The car that debuts this autumn will be OTA-ready.
What revenue streams do you see via over-the-air solutions?
One example is upgrading to automated drive, but also customization and also service parts. The customer could upgrade the driving character, the suspension settings or aerodynamics that are linked to performance and make them fit their own tastes. They could download this.
Will Lexus launch a hydrogen car by the end of the decade?
We are investigating the technology. Hydrogen is one of the solutions for the future. It can be stored, and the charging speed is the same as filling up with gasoline.
When will Lexus add its first plug-in hybrid to the lineup?
What are the target markets?
We are thinking globally.
Why has Lexus been slow to add plug-in hybrids?
We believe the hybrid will need additional work if you are thinking long term. It's easy to just put in a big battery, but our priority is to fundamentally improve the entire hybrid system.