2019 was a down year for Lexus in the USA, with stalling sales and an aging SUV lineup unable to keep pace with competitors — from Chester Dawson at Bloomberg:
Lexus’s 30th anniversary brake-tap is a reflection of its aging vehicle lineup, increased competition and an inability to keep pace with American buyers’ growing demand for larger sport utility vehicles. Two of its SUVs haven’t undergone a full model change in a decade, and the addition of a cramped three-row option to its popular RX model in late 2017 hasn’t won over as many cross-shoppers as hoped.
“Lexus has lost some of its luster,” said Jake Fisher, senior director of auto testing at Consumer Reports, who points to gains by rivals such as Hyundai Motors Co.’s Genesis brand. “Genesis is taking that baton. They are what Lexus used to be: affordable, comfy and stress-free.”
The automotive industry has undergone a massive shift towards crossovers, and it appears to have taken Lexus by surprise. The compact UX crossover was late to market and has yet to establish itself in North America, and both the GX & LX are over a decade old.
There is some hope buried in the negativity:
“We know 2019 was a year that we missed it,” Paul LaRochelle, general manager of a Lexus franchise in Annapolis, Maryland, and chair of the brand’s dealer council, said in an interview. “We will see Lexus making significant gains in the market over the next two, three, four, five years and beyond.”
Lexus’s plans include long-awaited updates to existing SUVs and at least one all-new mid-size SUV, he said. “The best way to put it would be a luxury seven- or eight-passenger people-mover.”
Those assurances from top Toyota officials came during an October meeting in Washington, where dealers said the vehicle highest on their wish list is an 18-foot long SUV akin to General Motors Co.’s GMC Yukon Denali XL. “That is one of our primary asks and one that they’re looking at,” LaRochelle said.
It’s unclear if LaRochelle is speaking of two different vehicles, though that would appear to be the case — would Lexus consider extending the LX to fit the North American market? Does this mean the production LF-1 crossover will have three rows?
Also included in the article is a quote from yours truly:
“It’s definitely been a slow time for the brand, and that’s what happens when you don’t have product to talk about,” said Kevin Watts, editor of the influential fan blog Lexus Enthusiast.