Lexus isn’t interested in following Mercedes-Benz in its downmarket path paved by the new CLA-Class.
The German brand is reaching for less affluent customers as part of its aggressive plan to be the world’s number one premium auto brand by 2020. Its new front-wheel drive based CLA-Class is the first, but not the only front-wheel drive model it will sell in North America.
“We will not head down below $30,000,” Lexus boss Jeff Bracken told Automotive News. “We have Toyota and Scion to handle that price level for us.”
So far, the CLA-Class is scoring big points with consumers. It went on sale in September and has already blown past the 10,000 unit mark; an accomplishment that is serving to widen a sales lead Mercedes currently holds over BMW in North America.
But the title in contention between the two German brands belonged to Lexus for 11 years until 2011 when BMW surpassed it. Lexus is “bumping up against 300,000” units for the year according to Toyota USA senior sales vice president Bob Carter. That marks the highest level since Lexus sales peaked in 2007 at 329,177.
Even if Lexus isn’t planning to chase top sales titles, it has a product in the pipeline that could help reach or even break that record soon. This March, the company is expected to showcase a production version of the LF-NX small crossover concepts shown in Frankfurt and Tokyo in September and November. Both a hybrid and turbocharged version will be sold and will likely be a big sales boost.
Currently, Lexus sells the RS 350 and RX450h based on parent company Toyota’s Highlander. Pricing for that product starts at about $40,000 and climbs above $60,000 when equipped with the “luxury” package.
That leaves Lexus with a wide birth to price its new small crossover model. The RAV4 it will be based on starts at about $24,000 and fully-loaded models in the segment often command prices above $30,000. Based on that, the NX200t and NX300h – names tipped by a Lexus patent filing – will probably start in the mid-30,000 range climbing quickly into entry-level RX territory.
GALLERY: Lexus LF-NX Crossover Concept
[Source: Automotive News]
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