In a surprising move four years ago, Lexus introduced the LM at the Auto Shanghai 2019, catching the attention of many. This luxury minivan was designed specifically for the Chinese market, catering to the demand for upscale minivans, as not everyone in China prefers driving a lavish SUV or being chauffeured in one. Now, at the upcoming Auto Shanghai show in the People’s Republic, Lexus is set to unveil an “all-new” LM, eagerly anticipated by automotive enthusiasts.
Although Lexus has remained tight-lipped about the specifics of the upcoming LM, a teaser image accompanying the announcement hints that it may be a second-generation model, rather than a mere facelift of the Alphard with a cosmetic upgrade. A comparison with images of the outgoing model reveals noticeable differences, such as a distinct rear pillar design, a reshaped taillight outline, and a slightly smaller quarter glass on the new model, indicating significant updates and refinements.
In direct competition with the Buick GL8 Century, the upcoming LM is positioned as an MPV (Multi-Purpose Vehicle), according to Lexus’ branding strategy. It remains uncertain whether the LM will be a distinct model separate from the Alphard, or if it will serve as a preview for Toyota’s anticipated fourth-generation minivan. Given that the Alphard has been in the market since 2015, with only a facelift in 2018, a revamped model is eagerly awaited and overdue. Only time will tell how the LM will differentiate itself in this competitive segment.
In China, the prices of these luxury minivans can soar to exorbitant levels. A fully-equipped four-seat LM, loaded with premium features, can easily surpass $200,000 in cost. Similarly, the Buick GL8 Century, as mentioned earlier, can also reach six-figure prices if all the available options are selected. The demand for high-end minivans in China is driven by consumers who prioritize luxury and refinement in their vehicles and are willing to invest heavily to attain the pinnacle of automotive opulence.
In the world’s most populous country, China (or is it India?), customers are presented with an abundance of options when it comes to luxury vehicles. In addition to premium SUVs and minivans, many international luxury brands also produce long-wheelbase sedans within the country. China even boasts stretched SUVs, reflecting the fierce competition in the market where domestic brands are gaining ground.
The Auto Shanghai 2023, set to commence on April 18th with the first press day and conclude on April 27th with the final public day, promises to be an exciting event for automotive enthusiasts and industry insiders alike.
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Juan Vasquez, or “juantio,” is an Automotive Engineer from Brooklyn with over seven years at Standard Motor Products. He’s also the Chief Editor at SUV Bazar. An active member of the SMP Softball team, Juan is affiliated with giants like Siemens and Google. He’s currently seeking new opportunities in automation engineering.