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Lexus Tops Mercedes, BMW in July Luxury Battle

Japanese luxury brand looking to regain top spot in segment.

by on Aug.03, 2015

The 2015 Lexus NX 200h is helping the brand return to the top of the luxury sales charts.

Lexus beat out its archrivals Mercedes-Benz and BMW in sales during July, setting the stage for all out battle royale for leadership in luxury vehicle sales during the next five months.

The German brands have held the lead in luxury car sales since 2011 but Lexus, which has long been focused on the U.S. market, is making a determined challenge this year.

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Lexus reported July sales of 29,816 units, up 9.1% from July 2014 on a volume basis and DSR basis, according to Jeff Bracken Lexus group vice president and general manager. (more…)

Luxury Utilities, Crossovers Push July Auto Sales to New Heights

Month finishes near 18-million-unit sales pace.

by on Aug.03, 2015

Small crossovers did well in July and so did Buick, which posted an 18% sales increase led by the Encore.

New vehicle sales remained robust as carmakers continued to post year-over-year gains in a market where the seasonally adjusted annual rate of sales, or SAAR, inched towards 18 million units.

General Motors, Chrysler, Ford, Nissan, Lexus, Audi, Subaru and Volkswagen all posted sales increases for July as the industry sales continued at their best tempo in more than a decade.

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GM posted a 6% increase, which included the best July results for the maker’s four brands combined since 2007. The month was paced by an 18% increase in Buick sales and an 8% increase in Chevrolet sales. Chevrolet’s results included a 24% increase in pickup, van and SUV sales, and the brand’s best July crossover sales ever.  (more…)

BMW, Mercedes Slugging It Out for Sales Title

Duel over luxury crown headed for photo finish.

by on Nov.11, 2014

BMW is holding a slim lead over rival Mercedes-Benz in the U.S. luxury market.

BMW and Mercedes-Benz are locked in a battle royal for the sales crown in the prosperous market for luxury cars in the U.S. BMW held the title for the two previous years, but one of the two has been the leader since 2011: the last year Lexus held the crown.

“One of the noteworthy facts in the October U.S. new vehicle sales results is that BMW now leads its archrival Mercedes-Benz by just 5,389 sales through the first ten months of this year,” IHS Automotive Analyst Tom Libby said.

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“With such a small gap in sales through 10 months, the two makes will most likely use marketing tools extensively through the end of the year, including numerous types of incentives, to gain an edge.” (more…)

Blistering August Sales Swell Luxury Vehicle Numbers

Frenzied month may mean slower September

by on Sep.03, 2014

Lexus captured the August luxury car sales crown. It's the second month in a row the Japanese brand has done so.

Luxury car sales remained brisk during August as Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Lexus as well as Audi all posted healthy sales increases last month in what has become an increasingly contest sales.

As it did in July, Lexus bested its German rivals for luxury sales leadership by selling 32,809 cars and utility vehicles. Lexus sales increased 10.1%.

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“It was a great market from top to bottom in August,” said Jeff Bracken, Lexus group vice president and general manager. “Lexus had its second straight record-setting month as both passenger cars and luxury utility vehicles posted solid gains.” (more…)

Lexus Ascends to Top of Luxury Sales Heap in July

Japanese maker outsells BMW and Mercedes.

by on Aug.05, 2014

Lexus nabbed the luxury sales crown in July. The maker's IS models helped to lead the way with a 24.7% jump.

The battle for the luxury vehicle sales crown has been a two brand clash for the last couple of years: BMW and Mercedes-Benz. However, the former champ, Lexus, is back in the game after it outsold the two German makers in July.

Lexus reported sales of 27,333 vehicles during July, while Mercedes-Benz reported 27,192, followed by BMW’s 26,409 units. All three brands also posted sales records for the month as new products, relatively inexpensive financing and economic recovery helped push sales.

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However, with all three brands reporting double-digit increases so far this year, BMW has built a small lead over its rivals, selling a total of 183,791 vehicles, while Mercedes-Benz has sold 178,816 and Lexus has sold 166,022. (more…)

Lexus Looks for Big Surge in Sales

New products, full production should drive brand's recovery.

by on Jun.13, 2012

The 2013 Lexus ES300h is one of nine new models the maker is launching this year.

Lexus is looking to an unprecedented array of new products, along with a revitalized production system to help it recover from last year’s sharp sales slide.

Long the U.S. luxury sales leader, Lexus suffered a sharp decline in 2011 under an assault by key German rivals compounded by the production cuts that followed Japan’s devastating March earthquake and tsunami.  The Toyota subsidiary wound up in third place for the year, behind both BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

But barring the collapse of the U.S. market, Lexus officials are anticipating a sales increase of as much as 25% for all of 2012, along with a several point increase in market share. However, it doesn’t appear the brand is in the running to regain its segment leadership.

“I don’t believe we’re going to put up the numbers,” said Tim Morrison, vice president of sales for Lexus, in part because “the Germans have much more extensive product lines.”

Indeed, BMW, Mercedes and Audi have been flooding dealers with all manner of new models in recent years and Morrison cautioned that, “I don’t think you’re going to see us match that.”

Nonetheless, Lexus isn’t sitting on the sidelines.  All told, the maker plans to launch nine new or significantly updated products this year alone – a figure that jumps to an even dozen if you include F-Sport performance versions of three other models including the RX crossover.

Morrison and other Lexus executives were in Detroit to show off one of those new offerings, the ES sedan.  For 2013 it gets a new chassis that grows an inch overall, an all-new hybrid powertrain, and a new look strongly influenced by the 2012 Lexus GS, with its distinctive “spindle grille” that will become the new face for the Japanese brand.

The new ES arrives a little too late in the year – sales launching in the U.S. in August – to have a major impact on 2012 volume but it will move Lexus in the right direction, stressed Morrison.  The outgoing sedan could reliably be expected to generate about 3,500 sales a month but the new Lexus ES is projected to boost that to 5,000 – about a quarter of that higher volume coming from the new new ES 300h hybrid.

The maker is also hoping to draw in younger buyers with the 2013 ES, something that has proven to be a serious challenge for the Lexus brand, as a whole, which has had a problem reaching beyond aging Baby Boomers.  If the new ES succeeds it could see an average buyer age of around 50, almost a decade younger than the current model.

The addition of the new ES, along with updates of models including the GS and critical RX, will clearly help Lexus gain momentum.  But the primary factor in its recovery will be the fact that all its plants are now operating at full speed again.

In the wake of last year’s natural disaster, Toyota lost 100s of thousands of units of production among all its brands, some model lines only reaching full capacity again by the end of 2011.  The situation was compounded by flooding in Thailand, last autumn, which caused further production delays.

Add competitive pressures and Lexus saw sales plunge to just 197,234, down from 228,129 in 2010.

Toyota is bullish about the U.S. automotive recovery, predicting the total new vehicle market will rise 1.5 million units to 14.4 million, the luxury market posting an especially strong resurgence.

For the first five months of 2012, Lexus sales are up 20%, year-over-year.  The maker expects that to reach 25%, sales for the full year projected to reach 250,000.

Demand for hybrids has clearly helped Lexus which offers more gas-electric models than any of its competitors.  The spring surge in U.S. fuel prices only fed consumer desire for hybrids.  But with fuel prices slipping in recent weeks, Morrison conceded that demand for the dedicated hybrid model, the CT200h has been slipping.

On the other hand, the hybrid version of the maker’s crossover, the RX450, “doesn’t seem to react to the price of gas.”

As reported this week, Honda plans to curb exports of Japanese-made products to the U.S. market due to the lopsided dollar/yen exchange rate.  (Click Here for that story.)

As for Lexus, Morrison said there are no plans to cut Lexus exports to the States.  On the other hand, there is an ongoing “conversation” about shifting more Lexus production to the U.S. — which accounts for about half the brand’s global volume – “to blunt the effect of currency exchange rates.”

But, so far, there are no firm plans in place to move models like the ES to one of Toyota’s North American assembly plants.

Joe Szczesny contributed to this report.

Punching More Passion into Lexus

Japanese maker expects smaller share going forward.

by on Nov.21, 2011

Lexus hopes to redefine itself with the new GS, putting more passion into a brand not normally known for fun-to-drive dynamics.

Can passion cure the blues for Lexus?

It’s been a tough year for the upscale arm of Toyota, Lexus likely to lose its long standing as the nation’s best-selling luxury automotive brand due to production shortages that followed the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan last March.  But Lexus has other challenges to deal with as it struggles to regain its status as king-of-the-hill.  Competition in the luxury market continues to increase – not only from existing automakers but also from new competitors like Hyundai, which last year launched its first premium luxury sedan, the Equus.

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So, Lexus is setting out to redefine itself with new products like the 2013 GS sedan, a model designed to “start adding driving dynamics,” said Lexus General Manager Mark Templin, to a brand not known for having a passion for performance.  The maker is also rethinking what products belong in its line-up.  It is less likely to try to match the brand proliferation of rivals like Mercedes-Benz and BMW and may even be willing to cede some market share, said Templin, to stay focused on what it does best.


Toyota, Honda Report Big December Sales Gains

But both makers are down double-digits for all of ’09.

by on Jan.05, 2010

Lexus remained the best-selling luxury brand for 2009.

The market’s two largest Japanese brands reported significant sales upturns to wrap up the final month of an otherwise dismal 2009.  But both Toyota and Honda couldn’t erase hefty double-digit declines for the year overall.

Overall sales for the month rose 32.3% for Toyota Motor Sales USA, while American Honda reported a December gain of 24.5%.  The figures reflect the generally positive trend for the final month of 2009, leading many analysts to predict that the new year will bring the beginning of a long, albeit slow recovery for an industry down more than 40% from its mid-decade peak of more than 17 million vehicles.

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“Emerging from the rollercoaster of 2009, the industry has gained positive momentum for a gradual recovery,” said Toyota Senior Vice President Don Esmond.


Toyota Planning $1 Billion Marketing Blitz

Japanese maker hopes to gain momentum as market recovers, and overcome recent setbacks.

by on Nov.02, 2009

Toyota will invest over $1 billion in a fourth-quarter marketing blitz, said division bost Bob Carter, to take advantage of recovering U.S. auto sales -- and to try to overcome recent setbacks to its image.

Toyota will invest over $1 billion in a fourth-quarter marketing blitz, said division bost Bob Carter, to take advantage of recovering U.S. auto sales -- and to try to overcome recent setbacks to its image.

Millions of Toyota customers will receive notice of a massive recall, this week, the result of a problem with driver floor mats that can come loose and jam the accelerator pedal.  But a senior Toyota executive, speaking to journalists during a Detroit luncheon, Monday, stressed federal regulators have ruled out the possibility that the company’s products could also face sudden problems with their electronic engine control systems.

During a blunt and wide-ranging conversation, Bob Carter, head of the powerful Toyota division, in the U.S., acknowledged that the Japanese maker has been facing an unexpected assortment of problems, in recent months, from quality snafus to recalls to slumping sales.

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But Carter said the company is ready to “go on the offensive,” and confirmed Toyota Motor Sales USA – which also represents the Lexus and Scion brands — will spend a record $1 billion on marketing and advertising efforts during the fourth quarter of the year.