TOYOTA CITY, Japan--Just because you can swing the $375,000 needed to buy Lexus' LFA sports car doesn't mean the company will sell you one.
Dealers will be told to ensure that the most elite drivers--not simply the richest--get their hands on an LFA, said Toshio Furutani, Lexus' global brand chief.
Already, 1,000 potential customers from around the world have expressed interest in the 552 horsepower two-seater, a pet project of Toyota Motors President Akio Toyoda. Toyota plans to build only 500 over a two-year period starting in December.
Furutani says the goal is to select people who will drive the car, not park it in a garage as an investment. And he would prefer to have high-profile owners.
"Dealers are almost handpicking the candidates," Furutani said in an interview at Toyota's headquarters. "This product is for boosting the brand image."
He likened the strategy to having movie stars tool around Hollywood in the Toyota Prius.
"It was very effective when Leonardo DiCaprio drove a Prius to the Academy Awards, and likewise it is a part of our strategy," he said. "There is a certain type of person we'd love to have driving the LFA. That's why we're reserving the final right to make the decision to ourselves."
Who is the ideal customer for the 4.8 liter, V-10-powered LFA?
"We want the owner who understands its value and who is an active driver, who drives the car quite often so that the car will be seen by others and talked about," Furutani said.
The company will offer only two-year leases for the LFA. That is meant to head off speculators who want to buy the car and flip it for a quick profit. At the end of the two-year lease, customers can choose to buy the cars.
(Source: Automotive News)