Friday, May 3, 2024

'Auto Trends' Talks With The Black History Maker Steering The Lexus Brand

Dejuan Ross, Lexus U.S. general manager, is posing with the all-new GX. (Photo Credit: Toyota)

When the Lexus brand was birthed by Toyota in 1989, our guest Dejuan Ross, was still in high school. Cadillac, Lincoln, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar and BMW were the luxury elites at the time.

Like Lexus, Acura and Infiniti were also launching their luxury nameplates. This was an opportunity for Toyota, Honda and Nissan to move their brands upmarket with the hopes of rivaling the American and European legacy makes.

Decades later, Lexus has done just that. In fact, it has pulled ahead of both Acura and Infiniti, whom both currently lag a flagship coupe and sedan in their portfolio.

The Lexus RZ, the brand's all-electric vehicle, is charging up at dusk. (Photo Credit: JeffCars.com)

As both Acura and Infiniti have somewhat struggled to find their identities and/or have lacked the capital to reinvest in products throughout the years, Lexus has firmly distanced itself from its Japanese and Detroit competitors, creating a full luxury line to rival the Germans – Mercedes-Benz and BMW – as well as, at times, lead the entire luxury pack in terms of overall new vehicle sales.

Lexus has also laid its stake in the dependability too, scoring above average on both JD Power’s and Consumer Reports quality studies. Moreover, Lexus is one of top three luxury brands too with the Black community, when based on new vehicle registrations.

Black History And Luxury Automakers

This week on Auto Trends with JeffCars.com, we talk one-on-one with Ross, who became the first Black person to receive the keys to 'drive' the luxury brand during the summer of 2022. 

Infiniti currently has its second Black man leading the brand, while Genesis launched globally and in the U.S. with two Black men leading its brand. Outside of these four, no other major luxury automotive brand has had Blacks at the helm. 

On the other hand, Black women have yet to steer a luxury brand or, for that matter, a non luxury automotive brand in the U.S. 

Much to one's surprise, Black women slightly edge out Black men in new vehicle registrations, when based on traditional households, according to S & P Global Mobility. 

As Lexus general manager and group vice president, Ross oversees the luxury automaker largest sales region globally. He’s responsible, along with his four regional field offices, in providing dealer support and cars to 244 U.S. Lexus dealerships.

So far, under Ross leadership, Lexus just reported its best-ever first quarter, with 78,841 vehicles sold. To put this in perspective, BMW and Mercedes-Benz finished the first quarter racking up 84,466 and 66,570 sales, respectively. Will Ross lead Lexus to the number one spot by year's end, as the luxury brand juggernaut? We'll have to wait and see.

During our conversation, the automotive veteran shares why he opted to kick start his corporate automotive career in California, as opposed to the car company he interned with while a student at Howard University.  

We also focus in on and address rumors about future product plans to move the brand into the ultra-luxury lane. Moreover, we’ll tackle why Lexus is running far behind its luxury competitors in offering fully electric vehicles, as even new makes, such as Genesis has three vehicles available for consumers to purchase. Currently, Lexus only has one all-electric vehicle in its line up, the RZ, which shares a platform with Toyota and Subaru.

Ironically, the Lexus UX is the brand's entry-level vehicle. At a starting price just shy of $37,000, the subcompact UX hybrid is supposed to be the most affordable vehicle in the brand’s line up. 

Conversely, as a matter of pure economics, that's just not the case. From our radio conversation, listeners will be surprised to learn which pricey vehicle in the Lexus line up could be more affordable, when incentives are applied.

Airs On SiriusXM And Free On Other Radio Outlets 

To Tune In 

To hear the conversation, tune in to Auto Trends with JeffCars.com on Saturday, May 4 thru Thursday, May 9. The program will air on SiriusXM 141 and on several FM radio outlets. To access the schedule, click here.

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