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Is the Lexus LFA Really a Sales Failure?

Lexus LFA

Every once and a while, I’ll read a review or article about Lexus and notice an inaccuracy — usually a minor technical point or some obscure historical fact. Mistakes happen, no problem.

What’s unusual is to see an article built on nothing but mistakes, where even elementary facts are ignored — but that’s what I found with Nelson Ireson’s Motor Authority editorial on how the Lexus LFA is a failure.

Normally, I just ignore these types of articles — but then the only time I’d see something like this would be on a forum post, not on what’s supposed to be a reputable news site.

To start with, Ireson’s argument is that because LFA production is down from 20 units a month to 15 a month, Lexus is struggling to get buyers interested.

For instance, he decides that the reason the LFA has fallen behind its announced production schedule is due to lack of interest, ignoring the fact that the Japan has just experienced a national disaster of epic proportions that has affected life across the country. Surely, 5 less LFAs built per month is understandable under the circumstances. (Even Lexus itself couldn’t let that one pass, sending in an official statement to explain the situation.)

Hidden in the mistake is a good question — why did Lexus claim all the LFAs were spoken for when in fact there’s still units available? If I had to guess, I would say this has less to do with demand more to do with location. Rather than selling the LFA first-come first-serve, Lexus allotted a specific number of LFAs to their worldwide regions. For instance, Canada has 10, Australia gets 9, and Japan kept 165. Lexus’ biggest market, the USA, has an allotment of 173 — of which it’s said only 20 remain (as of January 2011).

In all my daily Lexus research, I’ve seen another other region mention any excess surplus — in fact, it’s likely most regions would welcome additional inventory. This doesn’t strike me as a lack of interest, but rather a decision by Lexus to stick to their allotments.

On to the next:

Lexus, on the other hand, was introduced in America–a decidedly gauche nation, to many outside eyes–as an affordable luxury brand that nonetheless delivered the amenities of the good life. Can that same brand pull off a halo supercar so far removed from its brethren? Though unsubstantiated by data, that is a popular sentiment among the media and supercar owners alike.

What type of statistics will prove that the LFA has changed the opinion of Lexus? This is a difficult question, and it’s going to require more than just an opinion “unsubstantiated by data” to truly answer. Asking a few buddies what they think of the LFA is hardly research.

I could keep doing this, but here’s a last quote to wrap it up:

But it took Lexus 10 full years to reach this point, and a budget that would likely amount to the full purchase price of the entire organizations of either Ferrari or Lamborghini. And for all its aspects of technical advancement, it lags noticeably in others…on measures of power, torque, top speed, and acceleration, it’s a full generation behind the top tier of supercars.

The first point is such a head-scratcher — a car company spending an untold fortune developing a supercar from scratch is somehow a bad thing? Isn’t this exactly the type of thing automotive enthusiasts want to see?

The thought that the LFA is “a full generation behind the top tier of supercars” because it lacks a dual-clutch transmission and sets no new performance benchmarks is nothing but a numbers game, and illustrates a lack of perspective.

In my mind, what the the LFA was meant to do, even beyond its technology and performance, was bring a new level of emotion to Lexus (& Toyota). I’ve been lucky enough to drive the LFA on two occasions, and the workmanship, mindfulness and expertise that has gone into building this supercar is something the entire company (& Lexus enthusiasts) can feel proud of. There’s so much more to this car than its 0-60 time.

It’s possible to look at the LFA as the final product, as though it was the end of a long road, but in reality it’s the beginning of a new direction. Lexus may have taken 10 years to get to this point, but it’s the first step that’s usually the toughest.

(For another opinion on this, check out the reaction of Club Lexus member 1SICKLEX, who was absolutely disgusted — great read.)

Comments
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To be honest ... the LFA is seriously overpriced , it cost about 2m to 3m in my country (because of it's expensive tag plus our country's tax which is about 100% or higher sometime ... and dealer needed some part of money as well) . With that money , I could afford lots of other SuperCar ... I could even afford lots of old Aristo (Lexus GS) and tuned it . But still ... Toyota spent 10 years (like article said) on developing it from nothing , and it scrapped the body structure designed once , so what we paid for the car is actually paid for whatever Toyota spent on the development though .
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    05RollaXRS
  • June 3, 2011
Only 10 - 15 of the 500 LFA are available for sale. That is only because Lexus WANTS all 173 LFA allocations of USA to be sold in USA. They could easily sell those 10 - 15 in other markets where still people want to buy it, but cannot due to no allocations left. So close to 490 out of 500 LFA sold 2 years before the end of production date. How could that be a failure?
    K
    • K
    • June 3, 2011
    The only potential "failure" could be some of the USA LFAs being redistributed to other countries -- and that's just an allotment miscalculation.
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      05RollaXRS
    • June 3, 2011
    True. Here is a great new article on the LFA. I think it is worth posting up on the page: Lexus LFA - a better understanding http://www.clublexus.com/forums/lfa-model/574038-the-lexus-lfa-a-better-understanding.html#post6436041
    K
    • K
    • June 3, 2011
    Yeah, spotted that article as well -- will be featuring it shortly.
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    Primatives
  • June 3, 2011
Nah it aint failure imo. It took them 10 years to learn and develop this car from scratch just think of how much they learnt from it and transferring all that know how to future Lexus cars. They'll be upping the game to a new level just like they did with the first LS. Bugatti lose money on every car they build right???
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      lexxxus
    • June 5, 2011
    so what if lexus took 10 years to develop this? id rather that they took their time and hit the target rather than reverse engineer someone else's product like Hyundai 
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    Fullyz
  • June 3, 2011
How can anyone mention the LFA in the same sentence as sales? It's not a car for volume of sales.. Why couldn't there be reviews on excellence of a car? Like how it's made, manufacturing to,erence etc etc.. Quality etc.. Then we will see who truly makes the greatest cars on the world.. And Toyota has cars in every single segment..
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    enthusiast
  • June 3, 2011
Toyota only sold 337 of the Toyota 2000gt. I guess it was a failure too. http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/03/31/rare-1967-toyota-2000-gt-hits-ebay-for-650000/
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    Pedro Roldao
  • June 3, 2011
It's just a comment of a stupid wannabe journalist, and that's it.
  • Anonymous
  • June 3, 2011
The USA was originally suppose to get 150 but because of response, they were able to get another 23. Soooooo getting more supply because of demand some how equates to a sales failure?
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    Maarten
  • June 3, 2011
The LFA is not over prized but certainly not cheap. If seen thru the eyes of a non automotive person the price is hard to defend. Knowing the background, technical in's and out's + the fact that, in my opinion, you can trust when they say only 500 will be build this price is more acceptable. Regarding reducing production Ill think this has nothing to do with vehicles not being sold. More a matter of product supply and Toyota / Lexus putting big effort in the clean-up of damaged production units. We have no idea what devastation has happend in Japan. News nowadays comes and goes in such a speed that a few weeks after something has happend we all think that its solved and fixed already. There should be more respect for that. Also the trip for some LFA buyers scheduled in May has been postponed to probably end of september / beginning october.I wouldn't have a fun week while in another part of the country still 10.000 + people are missing. As far as my info goes most LF-A have been sold. Athough saying this, some markets had vehicles re allocated due to customers not comming up with the down payment. In some countries Lexus was very fierce with this and not giving such customers a second chance. I believe you name that very simple; Put your money where your mouth is. Here in Europe we say; When you say A, you have to say B as well. If sales are a little behind in the USA / Canada that could have something to do with the lease construction Lexus has overthere. If I pay for a car, I like to be the "no Restrictions owner " as well. With best regards, Maarten Verschure
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      05RollaXRS
    • June 3, 2011
    It is only and only US. No other market. Lexus had decided it will allocate 173 in the US way back in 2008. There is documented proof of that they wanted most of the LFAs sold in US. As far Canadian market is concerned, only 10 LFAs were allocated and all of them were sold-out in just 1 month. The demand was so high that Lexus Canada requested another 15 - 25 LFAs for Canada as they felt they could sell them easily. Lexus refused to increase Canada's LFA allocation.
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      Flipside909
    • June 4, 2011
    Do you have a link to that source that 173 was documented proof?
    K
    • K
    • June 3, 2011
    Excellent comment -- I certainly agree with you about a lack of sensitivity regarding the earthquake. I see it all the time.
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    BlackDynamiteMB
  • June 3, 2011
Haters are gonna hate.  Many blame Toyota/Lexus May sales woes directly on Toyota, and not on the tsunami/earthquake. Some people are put on this Earth to hate.  No reason is needed.  Just a desire. Objective drivers of the car are ALWAYS impressed by it.  He sounds like someone who hasn't driven it, won't be allowed to drive it, and is suffering from LFA Anxiety BD
    K
    • K
    • June 3, 2011
    It's a good question though, did that reviewer even drive the LFA?
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    LS forever
  • June 3, 2011
Talk about not getting it.  The LFA was built to respond to all those useless critics who somehow suggest that because the LS is smooth and graceful instead of a boy racer, Lexus is somehow unable to build a car to compete in the testosterone segment of the market.  I happen to love my LS but I am delighted Lexus built the LFA to shut up the children who need to have their hearing destroyed in order to believe they are driving a "real" performance car.  Piping the sound of the V-10 into the cabin was a dead giveaway.
    K
    • K
    • June 3, 2011
    Exactly, it's a direct challenge to the idea of what Lexus is -- for fans and haters alike. 
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    Clif Payne
  • June 3, 2011
One of the aspects of the LFA that is so often ignored by the "elite" auto press is the fact that not only is the LFA much easier to driver for the non-professional driver but it doesn't over hear in slow stop & go traffic like most other supercars.  When a company has been as successful as Toyota it seems everyone's job is to cut it down.  It's the same with the ISF.  Lexus built a true performance car that is designed to last 200,000 miles or more.  No one else can say that.  I just saw a review of the  Austin Martin V12 and the elite media raved that this $200,000 car could do 0-60 in 4.6 seconds.  Let a $65,000 ISF do it in 4.4 and it's a piece of trash.  The prejudiced is just overwhelming. 
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    LEXICON
  • June 3, 2011
Any idea how many have been sold in Canada? Do i still have a chance?? LOL
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      05RollaXRS
    • June 3, 2011
    As I wrote above: As far Canadian market is concerned, only 10 LFAs were allocated and all of them were sold-out in just 1 month. The demand was so high that Lexus Canada requested another 15 - 25 LFAs for Canada as they felt they could sell them easily. Lexus refused to increase Canada's LFA allocation.     
  • Anonymous
  • June 4, 2011
Vancouver is getting 5 of the 10
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    1SICKLEX
  • June 14, 2011
Thanks for linking my article at the end! We have way to much shoddy journalism on anything online automotive related today. It is truly sad. 
    K
    • K
    • June 14, 2011
    My pleasure -- and I couldn't agree more. :-)
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    ACABADA123
  • October 4, 2011
LFA FOR SALE IN FLORIDA .. RED .. CONTACT 786-380-7107

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