Made-in-China has always had a rough reputation when it comes to quality and Lexus isn’t helping things.
According to a report by Bloomberg, the Japanese automaker will continue making cars in Japan, despite incurring significant cost penalties for importing its vehicles into China, rather than making them in China.
“There’s too much quality risk in China to produce there,” said Takashi Yamamoto, executive vice president of Lexus International. “When that difficulty is gone, maybe local production is likely to be launched in China, maybe several decades later,” he said.
In comparison, Lexus’ biggest rivals, including BMW, Mercedes and Audi are all manufacturing cars locally for the Chinese market, which helps keep their prices down compared to Lexus vehicles.
The view that made-in-China cars aren’t as well built goes against recent studies that have found that Chinese built cars are improving in terms of quality. Then again, Lexus has always held the quality benchmark and it credits its Japanese manufacturing facilities as part of that reputation. Only two Lexus plants exist outside of Japan, a newly opened Kentucky plant that manufacturers the ES sedan, while a plant in Ontario makes the RX crossover.
Lexus suggests that China’s lack of experience in building vehicles is an indicator of less than stellar quality. On the other hand, the company hasn’t experienced the same growth in the country as its German rivals, chiefly because its cars are so expensive due to the import taxes.
“Made-in-Japan guarantees quality,” said Yamamoto. “If you shift to made-in-China, there could be some peripheral issues accompanied with this.”