Is Lexus Planning a City Car?

Lexus AS 150t

Japanese magazine Mag-X reports that Lexus is working on a city car based on the Prius C — anything’s possible, I suppose, but looking back at recent quotes from Lexus executives, it seems unlikely in the near future.

Here’s Lexus USA VP of marketing Brian Smith talking to Kicking Tires:

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.

Next, here’s a quote from Lexus USA general manager Mark Templin, taken from a Detroit News article:

[Templin] noted that Lexus won’t need to build small “A” and “B” segment vehicles to meet new corporate average fuel economy standards — because of Toyota’s fuel efficient models.

“Unfortunately in the U.S. right now, there’s not a lot of consumer demand for really small cars,” Templin said.

Of course, it’s worth noting that both these quotes relate specifically to the U.S. market, a region where the luxury sub-compact segment is quite small. An argument could be made for a Lexus city car in Europe — it would certainly boost sales and create more brand awareness, though it’s questionable if moving downmarket would be positive for Lexus in the long term.

Regardless, even if the Lexus strategy has changed and a city car has been approved, releasing a vehicle that looks anything like this Theophilus Chin rendering would cause catastrophic brand damage:

Lexus AS 150t

Also, there’s no way Lexus uses AS for the name.

[Source: Theophilus Chin via Paul Tan & Autoblog]