Lexus Executives Discuss Possible New Models

Lexus Potential New Models

A new article from Automotive News has plenty of interesting details on Lexus’ future plans — first off, here’s what they had to say about some potential new models:

[Global head of product planning and marketing Karl] Schlicht said the CT 200h, which arrived last summer, is ripe for new variants and that the brand also needs a sporty coupe. Meanwhile, his team is still weighing the launch of a seven-seat, car-based crossover, after years of study and several concepts.

Lexus previewed its future coupes with the LF-LC hybrid concept shown at the Detroit show. Schlicht put the price range of a possible production version between $100,000 and $130,000.

But there is ample room for other coupes below that, executives say.

In addition to a production model based on the LF-LC concept, coupe versions of the next-gen IS & GS should be front and center in Lexus’ plans — both would fit in perfectly in an expanded lineup.

New versions of the CT makes for an interesting puzzle. For a brief moment, I had visions of a CT coupe, but I would think something like the Prius V is much more likely — though this may just be about more engine choices (and perhaps even a plug-in hybrid?).

As for a large crossover, I have to think that the big issue has always been about cannibalizing RX sales, but at this point, that has to be preferable to potential customers leaving for another brand that offers a crossover with seven seats.

More quotes:

Lexus will launch nine new or updated models this year, plus three F-Sport variations, Templin said. The rollout includes the redesign of four of Lexus’ core sedan lines, starting with the GS 350 and GS 450h sport sedans arriving in February, followed by reworked versions of the ES 350, IS 250 and 350 and LS 460 and 600h. The LX SUV will also be refreshed this year.

Just before the end of last year, I had attempted to put together a list of these “nine all-new or updated vehicles”, and got hung up on whether F SPORT packages would count towards the total — with this cleared up, it’s time to take a guess at figuring out what these three F SPORT models will be.

Obviously, there’s the already announced GS F SPORT, but the other two are a little less clear. It was previously rumored that the RX & LS would be next in line for F SPORT packages, and I’m thinking this is right on the money:

  • The RX is almost certainly one of the nine models to be refreshed in 2012, and a F SPORT model would be a great way to bring another audience to Lexus’ best selling model.
  • The LS, which also appears to be another of “the nine”, has already been released with a LS Sport package, which could have been called the LS F SPORT. The next-generation of the flagship sedan could easily build on that.

One final quote I want to pull from the article:

First on the chopping block may be the HS. Sales of the hybrid, which was introduced in 2009, plunged 73 percent to 2,864 units last year.

“It’s a car that doesn’t necessarily fit the long-term needs of the brand in the U.S.,” said Jim Lentz, president of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A.

Also watch for a shift toward unibody crossovers, from frame-based SUVs such as the LX and GX. Today’s car-based trucks have sufficient towing power and don’t need the heavy frames, Lentz said.

The HS was the only Lexus model that wasn’t on display at the Detroit Auto Show, and I’d say that speaks volumes about its future — the CT 200h has all but replaced it in the lineup, and that’s discounting the eventual introduction of an ES hybrid.

Read the full story over at Automotive News