Kicking Tires sat down with Lexus USA vice president of marketing Brian Smith at the Chicago Auto Show, and came away with some new insight into Lexus’ future plans — first, in regards to more entry-level models:
Lexus has just one car below the $30,000 mark, the pint-sized CT 200h hybrid, and it sells well enough. But the automaker wants none of the near-luxury pie, said Brian Smith, marketing vice president.
“I don’t think [entry-luxury] is a focus of ours right now,” Smith said. “Other manufacturers have a reason for going there. Some might be customer demand; some might be government regulation” — a reference to the federal government’s corporate average fuel economy program.
Of course, Lexus has Toyota & Scion to help balance out the company’s overall fuel economy, which is a luxury that BMW & Mercedes don’t have. That said, I do think that once other luxury brands start pushing out these lower-priced smaller vehicles and the segment heats up, Lexus will eventually have to join in — but that’s a long way away.
Smith also shares Lexus’ strategy at introducing the new fourth-gen GS to U.S. dealers:
“We’ve learned over the years one of the worst things for a great launch is trickling out the product,” Smith said. “And in this case, the remaining inventory of the previous-generation [GS] is virtually gone. There’s no reason to worry about a sell-down. We just opened up the factory to produce as much as possible. We’re probably going to get well over 1,000 [cars] retailed this month.”
Selling over 1,000 GS in its rollout month is a nice start for the new model, and I expect sales will continue to grow once the supply chain normalizes — however, the real test for the GS will be when the pent-up demand is satisfied.
Also mentioned for anyone waiting for the GS 450h — looks like the hybrid model will be arriving in dealerships by
mid-April the end of May.
Lastly, and perhaps most interesting, is mention of possible RX variants:
Will the brand introduce a baby- or plus-sized RX? Smith won’t rule it out.
“There is room for that type of thing, [but] nothing that we can announce right now,” he said. “I would love to see the RX family grow. We don’t have specifics, but it’s a very capable vehicle, and it’s a broad section of the market.”
Nice to hear that Lexus is considering expanding the RX family — why Lexus has held off building smaller/larger RX variants has been a real mystery. I suspect it has to do with the crossover’s position as the second-best-selling luxury vehicle in the USA. Consider this — if Lexus released a similar model, would it steal sales from competitors or from the RX itself?
[Source: Kicking Tires]
Update: Edited for clarity.