The presence of a CEO of a global giant in a event of customer relationship would be itself a very unusual situation. If one adds to it the fact that it was a rainy Saturday at the coast of São Paulo, the appearance could give the impression that something very wrong with the company was about to happen. You know, as the story goes, bad news travels faster and further than good, anyway. Nah, not really. Steve St. Angelo, CEO for Latin America and the Caribbean at Toyota Motors, made a surprise appearance at the lunch organized by Lexus – the luxury car division of Japanese automaker – for customer loyalty at Santos’ Yacht Club de Santos, in Guarujá.
The agitation among staff members was evident, but there were no mishaps. Instead, the executive made a short speech and thanked the group of 16 guests, being applauded. The day was divided between a test drive with company vehicles, such as the SUV RX 350 F-Sport and the IS 250 F-Sport, and a yachting competition class with a professional team, sponsored by Lexus. After lunch, Steve St. Angelo spoke with B|Luxo about the actions of Lexus in Brazil.
B|Luxo: How Toyota, as the parent company, has seen the entry of Lexus in Brazil?
Steve St. Angelo: “This is a big year for us here and it shows the confidence that Akyo Toyoda (CEO and grandson of the founder of Toyota in Japan) has in the region. Our plan for the country is to stabilize the brand, make it even better known and to show what Lexus truly is. We’re not trying to create the # 1 brand in sales in Brazil, but to offer a car that the country deserves. People here work hard and they deserve the best. ”
B|Luxo: What is the new bet of Lexus for the Brazilian market?
Steve: “We will bring to the Motor Show in São Paulo (in October) the new SUV NX. It has a perfect size and equipment to South America. It’s a beautiful car! The best part of this car is its driveability. The president of Toyota is a race car driver and strives for driveability. He participated directly in the project. I think the NX is ideal for the region. I can hardly wait to see it on Brazilian roads. ”
B|Luxo: Toyota has plants in Brazil. Is there a chance to make it an advantage for Toyota to start producing Lexus vehicles here?
Steve: “Lexus is a very prestigious brand, only the best dealers in the world can sell their cars. And only the best factories in the world, with years and years of experience with the best possible quality, could have the opportunity to manufacture them. For example, in the USA, where we have been making cars for 28 years, it won’t be until next year that we will have a Lexus factory, in Kentucky. Here in Brazil, we need to show our high quality, and we have been doing this, exceeding my expectations. We now have an exciting new Corolla being made here. I’m very proud of our work and I think that one day, maybe not in my lifetime, we can share a Toyota factory with Lexus. But not today. ”