My Old Kentucky Home: Lexus Production Moves to US

This past week Toyota announced that it will begin producing its Lexus luxury car in the United States for the first time. The company will invest over $500 million to move production of the Lexus ES 350 luxury sedan to its existing plant in Georgetown, Kentucky. Until now the plant in Kentucky, Toyota’s oldest and largest in the United States, produced the flagship Toyota Camry, as well as the Avalon and Venza. The Lexus ES 350 shares underpinnings with the Camry and Avalon, making the transition somewhat easier. This aspect is just one of several strategic implications of the move of Lexus production to the United States.

While it’s parent is fully Japanese, Lexus is an American child, for many years the luxury car was available only in the United States. This focus on the American market led Lexus to the top of luxury car sales every year from 2000 to 2010. In recent years, however, Toyota has watched BMW and Mercedes Benz pass it in luxury car sales and showing little evidence of slowing down. In my opinion this factor played a role in Toyota finally deciding to move the production of Lexus to the United States. As the president of Toyota, Akio Toyoda, said, the company plans to “give regions greater autonomy to make the products their customers want.” By moving the production of the ES 350 to the United States, I believe Toyota will be able to more closely monitor how Lexus is doing compared to BMW and Mercedes Benz. The company can also make production changes more effectively and efficiently at its plant in Kentucky. This high involvement with its target consumers should aid Lexus as it tries to regain its spot as the top luxury car in the United States. The move of production also helps protect Toyota from the Japanese economy and possible disastrous production issues.

From an operations management viewpoint, I think that Toyota is much better off by moving the production of the Lexus to the United States. The ES 300 is essentially an American car, it is not nearly as popular in Japan as it is in the US, therefore it made little sense to have it produced half a world away from where it was being sold. There are no economic benefits since there is an exchange rate penalty for Japanese automakers. Additionally, the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan had devastating effects on production. This disaster revealed just how vulnerable Toyota and other Japanese automakers are, and in my opinion, played a key role in Toyota moving the production of Lexus to the United States. By having all of it’s operations and production in one place, Toyota can become more efficient and continue being a leading automaker.

Do you think it was a good decision by Toyota to move the production of Lexus to the United States?

Will this lead other foreign carmakers to move to America and what affect will that have on the production of American cars?




High-Speed Internet: Is it Still High-Speed?

This past week Google announced that they are expanding Google Fiber to Austin, Texas. Google Fiber is Google’s version of high-speed Internet, which can download at up to 1000 Mb per second, and digital cable television service. This is 100 times faster than any other Internet provider. Google Fiber also gives you one terabyte of storage, which can be used to record up to eight HD TV shows simultaneously. Google provides you with a brand new Nexus 7, that you use as a remote to control your TV.

Google Fiber is currently only being provided in Kansas City, KS and Kansas City, MO. Future cities that will have Google Fiber are Westwood, KS, Westwood Hills, KS, Mission Woods, KS, Kansas City North, MO, and Kansas City South, MO. Google offers three prices for Google Fiber:

Google Fiber Network Box
  • Gigabit + TV: $120/month ($300 construction fee waived)
  • Gigabit Internet: $70/month ($300 construction fee waived)
  • Free Internet (5 Mb): $0/month (for at least seven years) + $300 construction fee

These higher Internet speeds would eliminate those irritating YouTube buffers and would speed up downloading/uploading files. However, are the benefits of Google’s high-speed Internet worth the cost? It is estimated that it cost Google $11 billion to install Google Fiber nationwide, 20 million homes. That comes out to roughly $550 per home. With Google waiving the $300 construction fee, it would take five monthly payments of the highest-priced service, Gigabit + TV, to pay for the installation of Google Fiber to a home. Google would not start making a profit until five months after installing the service to a home. That is a long time to make a profit. This could prevent expansion to other cities.

In order to receive support from city politicians and residents, Google will install Google Fiber to public institutions for free. Hospitals, schools, community centers, and libraries will get Google Fiber installed for free. The rollout of Google Fiber also creates jobs in the Austin area and creates economic growth.

But is Google Fiber really necessary? The current U.S. average Internet speed is 7.2 Mb per second. While 7.2 Mb is not ultra-fast, it is still quite fast. Should Google not be focusing on expanding Internet access globally? Google should focus their Internet operations strategy on providing access to areas where it does not exist. We can wait for Google Fiber until everyone has access to the Internet first.

Should Google be waiving the $300 construction fee? Is this a smart way to gain customers or is Google only increasing its own expenses? Why is Google only expanding Google Fiber from town to town and not expanding nationally at one time? How are other Internet service providers going to compete with Google Fiber and its amazingly fast speed? What would you do with download speeds of up to 1000 Mb per second? Overall, does Google have good product strategy and project management in regards to the rollout of Google Fiber?


Analyst: Google Will Spend $84M Building Out KC’s Fiber Network To 149K Homes; $11B If It Went Nationwide:

Austin Next City for Ultra-fast Google Fiber:

Google Fiber:

Google Fiber Expands TV, Internet to Austin, Texas:

Residents and Businesses Excited for Possibilities Google Fiber Brings:

US Internet Speed Lags Behind S. Korea, Latvia: