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Lexus banks on NX and RC

Sleek model: The Lexus RC arrives later this year or early next year and should boost the desirability of the brand Australia.

Arrival of NX SUV and RC coupe will to Lexus incremental sales growth in 2015

Lexus logo2 Jun 2014

By TIM NICHOLSON

LEXUS is set to benefit from both an image and sales boost in 2015 spurred on by the launch of its RC coupe halo car and all-important NX compact SUV by the end of the year.

The Australian arm of the Japanese luxury brand last week confirmed details of both new models that will fill clear gaps in its line-up, elevating the model range beyond the passenger line-up that includes the IS, ES, GS and LS sedans, CT hatch and RX and LX SUVs.

Lexus last week confirmed an October arrival for the hybrid-powered version of the NX compact SUV ahead of the new turbo-petrol-powered models in early 2015, while the striking RC coupe is set for a local debut either late this year or early in 2015.

Speaking with GoAuto at the Good Deign Awards last week, Lexus chief executive Sean Hanley said he was “enthusiastic” about the impact both models will have on the brand, but stopped short of discussing sales targets for the NX.

“I don’t want to put a sales target on it,” he said. “Once you start talking volume, you are really setting yourself to be market leader or you are chasing volume. That’s not what Lexus is about.

“Having said that, we want to grow the brand by way of good product and good customer experience. Even though the luxury segment is in great growth, if we can grow the Lexus brand five to 10 per cent for the next five years, I will be happy.” Mr Hanley also said that rather than adding volume to the the company’s sales in Australia, the RC coupe sportscar would act as a halo model, branding Lexus as a builder of performance luxury cars.

Speaking at the same event, Lexus Australia manager of sales, strategy and PR Adrian Weimers told GoAuto that the company would be pleased with five per cent growth on the back of the NX SUV.

“At the end of the day we are going to go in there with relatively conservative plans because we want to grow gradually.” The dimensions of the NX mean that it sits between the compact and small luxury SUV segments in Australia, competing with the Audi Q3 and larger Q5, and Mr Weimers said that this would be an advantage in the market.

“One would think, strategically, that could be a good thing. Create a bit of confusion. It’s neither an X1 nor X3 neither a Q3 nor Q5. When you look at where those sales are coming from, the consideration set is within that group, so something that sits mid-way between them is probably a good thing I think.” Mr Weimers said pricing for the NX is still being decided by the company's Japanese parent company, but that they would be careful not to impact sales of the larger RX SUV.

“RX is an incredible valuable car to us and an incredibly valuable segment, so where you position this car (NX) is very important. You don’t want to position it in such a way where the value equation is too big for that car so we just need to find that sweet spot.” The RX remains the second best selling model in the Lexus line-up with 625 sales to the end of April this year, marking a slight dip of 7.7 per cent over January to April sales last year.

Overall Lexus sales have risen by 3.9 per cent in the first four months of this year compared to last year, with a total of 2222 units sold so far.

The IS sedan range continues its sales resurgence with an 11.4 per cent increase for 931 sales, while the refreshed CT hatch range has climbed by 8.8 per cent year-to-date with 296 sales.

The reborn ES mid-size sedan has also added volume to the brand this year, with 205 units sold so far, although the similarly sized GS has dropped by 48.9 per cent to 97 sales in 2014.

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