WardsAuto spoke with Tim Morrison, Lexus USA’s vice president-sales and dealer development, about the increased pressure from dealerships for a North American-built ES:
“One of the requests we’ve had from our dealer council is to figure out a way to get the ES – or one of our other volume vehicles – here just to blunt the (negative effects of) currency exchange,” he says. “(But) when you look at whether you want to shift production to North America, that’s a very big decision. It’s a lot of money, and there’s timing with changeovers, etc.
“I’m not in those meetings, but I’m sure it’s a conversation that’s taking place. We’re not there yet, but I can tell you it’s coming.”
Currently built in Kyushu, Japan, the ES is the most likely Lexus model to be produced in North America, as it shares the engines and various parts with the Toyota Camry & Avalon, both of which are manufactured in Georgetown, Kentucky — at this point, seeing a North American-built ES seems inevitable.
One point in the WardsAuto article regarding ES sales:
…the U.S. market is expected to account for 50% of output, with China taking 30% and Europe 20%, officials say.
This is a very curious breakdown — let’s dig a little deeper into the numbers.
For the new 2013 ES, Lexus is estimating sales of about 100,000 units a year worldwide — at least 50,000 units are destined for the USA, and China should be able to sell 30,000 units based on 2010 sales, but 20,000 units a year in Europe would represent some significant growth, especially when Russia is the only European market that currently offers the ES.
Even spread across the traditional ES markets (Russia, Canada, & the Middle East), 20,000 units would require nearly doubling sales — a tall order considering that Lexus isn’t forecasting any significant growth in the USA or China.
The purpose of all this math? Two points — these expanded sales numbers could indicate that Lexus is planning to expand the ES into Eastern European countries (seems unlikely), or it could be an early estimate of sales for the right-hand drive version of the ES set to debut in 2013.