Naveen Soni takes over as President of the Lexus brand at Toyota Kirloskar Motor (TKM) from January 1. He succeeds PB Venugopal who will move over to a senior role in product planning.
Soni has been spearheading sales and service in his capacity as Senior Vice President through 2020 and 2021 when the pandemic caused a host of disruptions. He has been involved with key models like the Glanza and Urban Cruiser which were sourced from Maruti as part of the global agreement between Toyota and Suzuki.
In his new role at the helm of Lexus, Toyota’s luxury brand which entered the Indian market in 2017, Soni will have his work cut out in increasing its numbers while taking on competition from European brand which dominate the luxury car market
Increasingly, manufacturers of luxury cars are beginning to realize that it is the customer experience that eventually matters right from the time of taking delivery to actual use. These are discerning and affluent individuals who want these models to be an extension of their personalities.
Lexus already has guest experience centres (GECs) in select metros and will look at expanding this number to tap the growing breed of wealthy entrepreneurs who are ready to spend on luxury products.
Soni takes charge of Lexus at a time of a heightened awareness of global warming and hopes that the hybrid line-up of Lexus models will appeal to the environmentally conscious buyers who are keen to make a statement. However, with no duty concessions, hybrids continue to be very expensive and coupled with the high customs duties on imports, the high price of the mostly imported range of Lexus in India is a deterrent, Soni will have to work around.
Speaking on the appointment as the President of Lexus India, Naveen Soni said “I believe that it is going to be an exciting journey in the dynamic and vibrant Indian luxury market, where luxury consumers are evolving to strongly adopt the concept of responsible luxury. This is where we see an opportunity for Lexus India to expand its operations through its portfolio of self-charging hybrid electric vehicles. I look forward to this role and to bringing many more amazing experiences to our discerning guests.”
In his earlier roles, Soni has been a forthright figure in the sustainability field. He held the position of Co-chair of the environment and sustainability panel of CII Karnataka for 2014-15 and 2015-16, Chairperson of the CSR Panel of SIAM for 2015-16, 2016-17 & 2017-18 & President of SAFE (Society for Automotive Fitness & Environment) Council of SIAM for 2017-18. He has also represented the CII Southern Region as Governing Council Member for the year 2018-19.