“My immediate plan for Lexus is to ensure successful launches of the new GS range in April and the revolutionary RX400h in the middle of the year,” says Settle. The company will reveal a concept preview of its all-new IS200 at the Geneva Motor Show in March.
“This year will see the start of the steady growth of Lexus sales and we are aiming for a 20% increase compared with 2004.”
This would boost Lexus’ sales to 12,000 units. The UK’s portion of the three-year £400m marketing budget the company announced last November has yet to be set although Lexus says it will be “adequate”.
Settle was previously director of the Customer Services Group at Lexus’ European head office. His predecessor moves on to become vice-president for Lexus and corporate planning at Toyota Motor Marketing Europe.
New Lotus managing director Clive Dopson has moved to reassure dealers that his appointment marks the end of the period of upheaval at the company.
“The re-organisation in the last few months has allowed more focus on Lotus Cars as an entity within Group Lotus,” he says. “We were less affected by lay-offs in the car side. Now we are concentrating on future product.”
Dopson is just back in the UK after a week-long visit to parent company Proton in Malaysia. He says its strategy sees Lotus as a three-platform company and that Proton “virtually signed off” a full-size clay model of a new supercar. The company is currently conducting feasibility studies into a mid-range Eclat- type four-seater car.
Dopson has been manufacturing director at Lotus Cars since 2000. The role of managing director is newly created at the Norfolk- based company.
Last year Group Lotus announced it was going to have to make 350 employees redundant following completed work and the cancellation of an engine development contract with Proton. However, following consultation, it has managed to cut this figure to 237.