Looking at Lexus Sales in Japan

Lexus vs. BMW in Japan

While there’s no question that the Tōhoku earthquake has affected Lexus production, Bloomberg has used some sleight-of-hand reporting in their recent article about the brand’s Japanese sales, making it appear much worse than it really is. First, a quote:

Across the country, as Japanese carmakers reeled from output disruptions following the quake, BMW deliveries surged 56 percent in April, while sales of Toyota Motor Corp. Lexus brand fell 45 percent. Sales of all imported foreign brands rose 21 percent even as the overall auto market shrank 47 percent.

“Customers have told me some Lexus models won’t arrive until November,” said Kubota, sales manager at the BMW dealership in Tokyo’s Aoyama district.

Damage to parts makers from the disaster forced domestic automakers to produce at half of planned levels, causing delivery delays of as long as a year for some models.

Toyota’s plants will run at 90 percent of normal production levels this month, the company said June 1, after operating at 50 percent in April and May. Toyota expects global production to normalize by November or December.

As a result, the wait time for all models is about four months on average, compared with one month prior to the earthquake, said Yasuhiko Sato, general manager of Toyota’s Japan sales planning division.

The trick is in the timeframe — even though this article was written in June, only the April sales figures were used. So while it’s true that Lexus sales did fall 45% and BMW’s did jump 56% in April, bring the May numbers into play and it tells a completely different story.

  • Lexus May Sales: 1,789 (down 5.3% from May 2010)
  • BMW May Sales: 2,290 (down 11.9% from May 2010)

Using these numbers, it certainly looks like Lexus has been able to rebound from a single bad month and turn in relatively normal sales for May — unfortunately, it looks like BMW is slipping from its high horse.

Now let’s bring the year-to-date sales numbers into the mix:

  • Lexus YTD sales: 13,953 (down 18% from 2010)
  • BMW YTD sales: 11,411 (up 6.4% from 2010)

Just to be clear, Lexus has managed to stay ahead of BMW in Japan, even with its supply chain almost totally disrupted by a natural disaster, but instead of focusing on that, Bloomberg decides to write about BMW benefitting from another brand’s hardship — one BMW dealer even brags about it:

For BMW dealer Kubota, the aftermath of the earthquake has led to a noticeable increase in showroom traffic.

“It may be inappropriate to say, but this is an opportunity for us,” he said.

Update: Edited for clarity.

[Source: Bloomberg & JADA via TTAC]