Lexus to reveal refreshed ES sedan in Shanghai

The teaser image of the ES released by Lexus on Friday.
UPDATED: 9:35 am ET - details added

SHANGHAI (Bloomberg) -- Toyota Motor Corp. will introduce a new Lexus model in China for the second year in a row, showing a redesigned ES sedan in Shanghai this month.

The company released a teaser image of the refreshed ES on its website, showing the L-shaped daytime running light and spindle-shaped front grille that are hallmarks of the luxury brand's styling.

Toyota will release more details when the car is unveiled April 20 at the Shanghai auto show.

Choosing China for back-to-back global debuts after introducing the NX compact crossover last year in Beijing underscores Toyota's increasingly global ambitions for its luxury brand, which still generates the bulk of its sales in the U.S.

Lexus sold about 76,000 vehicles in China last year, below its target of 85,000, or about a quarter of its deliveries to U.S. customers.

By updating the ES, Lexus is revamping two of its best-selling models in short succession. The fourth generation of the RX crossover, the brand's topseller, debuted earlier this month at the New York auto show and goes on sale in the fall.

The ES is the brand's best-selling sedan in the U.S.

Lexus has failed to keep pace with German competitors BMW AG, Daimler AG and Volkswagen AG's Audi in China.

A barrier to growth has been Toyota's reluctance to build Lexus vehicles locally, meaning the brand's made-in-Japan models are subject to a 25 percent import tariff.

Lexus is likely to soon fall behind General Motors' Cadillac to No. 7 among premium foreign brands in the China market, Max Warburton, a Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. analyst in Singapore, wrote in a March 17 report.

GM plans to open a Cadillac factory in Shanghai this year and already builds the XTS and ATS-L sedans locally.

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