Sunday, December 16, 2012

Japanese honor?

Remember those old movies about the Japanese? Honor..... one of their highest values, an essential, basic, profound value. Without honor, they seemed to be unable to go on, without honor, they apparently could not live anymore. Honor lost, meant life lost, sometimes literally. Ahhh, the movies. How sweet..... and how wrong.
Modern day Japanese honor is different. Copying, interpreting, plagiarism - which to me is incredibly close to stealing - is compatible with honor. Reminds me of the honor of the mafiosi. Honor is strictly limited to whatever benefits the family, when it comes to others, to anybody outside the family blackmailing, killing and pretty much everything else is just fine.

Copying, interpreting (or however you want to call it) is OK in Japan, it is now an art form....plagiarism of car designs is good, plagiarism of brand image is good, imitating car types is fine....Every Lexus rolling on our streets is proof that all this is part of the new Japanese honor. A Lexus has to look like a Mercedes or BMW in dim light, or it is not a Lexus....The pick up truck, an original American concept, never needed nor seen in Japan before, now proudly a Japanese product, oh, the Tundra. When are we finally going to see an ad where the Tundra sits on the copier and out comes the copy, the F150?
Strangely enough, other car companies survive and thrive without plagiarism. Ford never steals designs, their cars may not look particularly well (except for pickup trucks and SUVs), but at least their designs are original. They can walk proud. That one Ford 500, later renamed into Taurus, that looked like slightly enlarged VW Passat, yes, we can forgive that and call it a "hommage" to the now classic Passat. Audi never copies, Audi IS COPIED. Audi has emerged in the last decade as one of the most innovative car companies when it comes to design, starting with the TT. The front of many cars, even American cars, owe their design to Audi. And Audi now sets the standard in light design. Volkswagen does not copy, VW made design history with the Passat. Chevy deos not copy, Chrysler does not copy, Subaru, Infiniti, Mazda do not copy (Yes, they are Japanese, I know), BMW does not copy, BMW blazes the way in design.
Turns out that Germany is quite the design power in automobiles. We used to think that Germans were just great engineers, but no, they are great designers as well. Leading the world, actually.

On the other side, Honda copied the 3 series BMW when they created their successful Accord many years ago. When BMW came out with the X6 -what a coincidence - Honda came out with the Crosstour. Acura routinely copied Audi until recently, Nissan's successful Altima and Maxima are based on the design of the VW Passat.

But Lexus, Lexus is in a whole different category. Lexus "copied" automobile design, "brand feeling" and automobile technology purposely, it was a basic, founding principle of the company. They went far beyond what anybody else thought moral.

I recently traveled to Rome, Italy and Freiburg, Germany. Hardly a Lexus on those roads there. I might have seen a single Lexus in the metropolis of Rome, but every politician and wealthy person and powerful appearing Italian had either a) a black Mercedes or b) a black Audi or c) a black Maserati Quattroporte. Those where the cars parked in front of government buildings and the cars that pushed their way through rushhour traffic with Polic escorts. Italians are the foremost experts in taste and beauty. They are very well aware of quality, and they know to distinguish between true class and beauty and imitations. So, no Lexus on their roads...
Germans on the other hand, grew up with the original, with the perfection that Lexus publicly claims to be pusrsuing, with.... Mercedes. And they reject copies and imitations.

When I asked a Japanese aquaintance about the morale behind Lexus and their shameless imitation of Mercedes he said with a smirk "Imitation is the highest form of flattery"
Oh, God. I hope someone "flatters" Toyota and Lexus one day and gives them a dose of teir own medicine. So far, they have nothing much worth copying....

Every Lexus on the road is a symbol of lack of honor, of lack of the ability and decision to build your own car, of going your own path. Every Lexus on the road is a symbol of shameless imitation and of the attempt to hook onto the excellent reputation built by Mercedes over decades of research, engineering and racing expience. As a parasitic design, Lexus lives off the feeling and memories you get when you see a mesterfully built car, a Mercedes-Benz. Lexus tries to steal those feelings, by looking as close as possible to a Mercedes. It tries to steal those feelings and to attach them to their own cars. Not quite honorable.

When is Lexus going to grow up? Other companies al over the world are quite able to manufacture their own cars in their own right and be proud of it. Not just BMW, not only Audi, yes, also Cadillac. Cadillac is a prime example. Cadillacs have very distinctive lines, a clear design that says "I am a Cadillac and I am proud of it". Cadillac does not advertise that it "pursues Medcedes", Cadillac simply announces in their ads that they are a thrilling, powerful and elegant car.

Why is Lexus so terrified to stand on it's own feet? Is the company not aware that it loses all respect by being the copy-cat company, by being the parasites on Mercedes' back, the "moochers"?
Yes, Lexus may have to get rid of that calcified stubborn top management that clings to the notion that only Mercedes and BMW are great cars. The upper management of Lexus is so conservative in their attempt to mimick Mercedes and BMW that they did not copy the Audi lights - the row of small circular lights in the main front headlights. No, they had to wait until Merecedes adopted them too - and "Bang", suddenly Lexus had them too, the lines of little circular bulbs in their headlights. Now even their lights at night are hard to distinguish from a Mercedes.
Guys, stop already. Hire a few original designers, and yes, there are plenty of them around, and go for it. Create your own look. Italians are particular good at design, Californians are good, hey, great designers are everywhere. Although I suspect it is really the upper management at Lexus that has to change before this happens.
Stop being the moochers! Nobody has respect for copiers and imitators. As long as Lexus keep imitating, imitating, persuing, persuing, running after Mercedes, as long as Lexus does that, the company is an embarrassment for it's country. Stand by yourself, grow up! Everybody else does it...

1 comment:

Kyoko Nitori said...

Yeah, I have noticed that several car brand have the same design. But some other car brand always come up with their original design.But the thing, the engine are all different! I think the people would look at the engine as well. Because that's what I been looking for when I bought a Japanese used cars.