Will Lexus be the #1 U.S. Luxury Auto Brand in 2013?

2013 Lexus Lineup

In a recent interview with Wards Auto, Toyota USA president Jim Lentz makes a bold prediction regarding Lexus sales in the USA:

…he does predict Lexus likely will claw its way back to the top of the luxury heap by the end of 2013.

He acknowledges Mercedes-Benz and BMW have had several good sales years in the U.S., but he says Lexus has been operating at a disadvantage.

“We just reached optimal inventory at the beginning of this month,” he tells WardsAuto in an interview during the Center for Automotive Research’s Management Briefing Seminars here. “Next year will be a time for us to see how competitive we will be.”

Lexus general manager Mark Templin said last year that the brand was unlikely to be the top U.S. luxury car manufacturer ever again — the reasoning was that BMW & Mercedes are both moving downmarket in order to satisfy U.S. fuel economy targets, something that Lexus didn’t have to worry about due to its relation with parent company Toyota.

I doubt that the strategy at Lexus has changed — the CT will likely remain the smallest vehicle in the lineup for the time being. Instead, I see this new confidence as a direct result of two factors:

  • With the next-generation ES now available at dealerships and the next-generation IS rumored to debut at the Detroit Auto Show, two of Lexus’ best-selling volume models will be all-new and ready to fill built-up consumer demand.
  • An all-new volume model — a compact crossover, for instance — would go a long way in increasing overall Lexus sales.

To that point, here’s another quote from the Wards article:

And he promises several more new Lexus products will be introduced at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit next January.

As mentioned, the Lexus rumors surrounding the Detroit Auto Show have centered on the next-generation IS, and I imagine that to still be the case — after all, there’s plenty of IS variations that could share the spotlight.

[Source: Wards Auto]