Is Lexus Planning to Expand the RX Family?

2013 Lexus RX

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.