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Lexus Australia closing in on 10,000 sales in 2019
New models put Lexus Australia on track for new sales record despite market downturn
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7 Oct 2019
LEXUS Australia says its first year with five-figure sales is still within reach despite the new-vehicle market’s decline and tight supply of its in-demand hybrid models.
Speaking to GoAuto this week at the RX national media launch in the Blue Mountains, Lexus Australia spokesperson Dan DeGasperi said the company is three months away from confirming its highest annual sales result.
The latest VFACTS figures show that the Japanese prestige brand has increased its sales by 6.6 per cent to the end of September, currently standing at 7107 units in a market that has cooled off by 7.9 per cent.
“Lexus is having its best year ever and by the time fireworks welcome in the New Year, we’ll have achieved a new full-year sales record,” he said.
“Unlike our German rivals, Lexus has increased sales and market share this year.”
Mr DeGasperi said Lexus Australia is sticking to its 2019 target of towards 10,000 sales, which was announced in January, although he cautioned there are “a couple of variables at play”.
“Two things working (against us) is the wider economy and you will see in the wider market a downturn there, which hasn’t affected Lexus,” he said.
“The bigger one, really, for us is hybrid supply in general, but particularly for UX and NX. It will come down to whether some orders can be filled in December, at the back end of the year, or if they will go to January.
“So, it will be a record year, but where it falls, we don’t know at the moment.”
The hybrid UX250h is accounting for about 60 per cent of the UX small SUV’s overall volume in its first year on sale, making for a three-month waiting list, while the impact of a global shortage of batteries is being most felt by the best-selling NX mid-size SUV, which has backtracked by 14.7 per cent, to 2516 units.
Either way, Lexus Australia is coming off the back of a record September that saw it sell 734 vehicles, which is 129 units – or 21.3 per cent – more than it did in the corresponding month last year.
The UX was more or less singlehandedly responsible for this growth with 122 examples sold last month.
Having officially launched in January, the UX has acted as a gateway model, according to Mr DeGasperi, not only introducing new buyers but providing crucial incremental sales for Lexus Australia in one of the years it has needed them most.
In total, 1395 examples of the UX have found homes to the end of September, and without those registrations, Lexus Australia’s year-to-date volume would be down a significant 14.3 per cent.
That said, the UX is not the only model providing a boost for Lexus Australia this year as the ES300h mid-size sedan has found favour with buyers, recording 421 sales for a whopping 184.5 per cent improvement over the corresponding period in 2018.
The ES300h’s success stands to continue following a model-year update earlier this month that ushered in a new performance-focused F Sport grade as well as range-wide Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support.
The third and final model providing Lexus Australia with growth this year is the LX upper-large SUV, which is up 21.3 per cent to 336 sales.
While Toyota Australia has moved to delete petrol versions of the mechanically related LandCruiser 200 Series from its model line-up due to low sales, Mr DeGasperi said Lexus Australia has no plans to make the same move.
“We’re keeping diesel and petrol for LX because the sales indicate there is absolutely a market for both,” he said.
Mr DeGasperi added the sales of the diesel LX450d have “surpassed expectations”, accounting for about 45 per cent of the LX’s overall volume since its release.
Available in facelifted fourth-generation form as of this month, the RX large SUV still plays a key role for Lexus Australia as its third-best-selling model, having found 1383 homes (-7.9%) in the year to date.
While Mr DeGasperi would not be drawn on sales projections for Lexus Australia’s freshest product, he did reveal that “the plan is to grow the volume within the context of the segment” it plays in, which has contracted by 8.2 per cent to the end of September.
The LC sportscar might be Lexus Australia’s lowest volume contributor after taking a 71.0 per cent hit in the year to date, to just 20 examples, but it could soon receive a lift from a second body style, the convertible that was revealed in July and is still yet to be confirmed for sale locally.
Mr DeGasperi said the drop-top’s chances are not dependent on the fixed-roof version’s sales, which would otherwise put a serious dent in its business case.
“If you look at the sportscar market, that is not a volume car for Lexus,” he said. “It does an enormous job of carrying the brand into new territory.”
The CT200h small hatch (145 units, -68.5%), IS mid-size sedan (643, -25.2%) and GS large sedan (28, -57.6%) are Lexus Australia’s three oldest models, with their declining sales in 2019 reflecting this, although the much newer LS upper-large sedan (25, -62.7%) has also stumbled.
Nonetheless, Mr DeGasperi said: “This year’s record sales are the culmination of a long-term focus by Lexus on putting customers first.”
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