After nine straight years as America's best-selling luxury brand, Lexus slipped behind BMW in March. Yoshi Inaba, the new president of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., says giving a boost to the 20-year-old brand is one of his top priorities.
New products will be key. One issue is Lexus' heavy reliance on one model: the RX crossover. Another problem: The median age of buyers is higher for Lexus than for chief rivals BMW and Mercedes.
For the 2010 model year, Lexus introduced a hardtop convertible and a dedicated hybrid. General Manager Mark Templin does not rule out a new small sedan to counter the BMW 1 series and Audi A3.
"We aren't attracting enough 25- to 49-year-olds," Templin says. "Our goal is bring out product to reach those buyers."
Here are Lexus' product plans for the 2010-12 model years.
IC: A BMW 1-series competitor is being considered for the United States and could arrive as early as the 2012 model year. Sedan, coupe, convertible, crossover and hybrid versions are on the table.
IS: Lexus expanded the line in May with the introduction of the 2010 IS C hardtop convertible. The IS line is expected to be redesigned for the 2013 model year.
HS: The sedan is the first dedicated hybrid model offered by a luxury brand and is the first Lexus model to use a four-cylinder engine. Fuel economy is 35 mpg in the city and 34 on the highway. Sales began this month.
ES: The midrange sedan is due to be redesigned for the 2012 model year. A hybrid version will be added.
GS: A redesigned version will arrive as a 2011 model. It is unclear whether the GS-F performance sedan planned for the 2012 model year will survive in the plan. The issues are fuel prices and Toyota's budget cuts.
LS: The range-topping sedan is due to be redesigned for the 2013 model year.
SC: With the arrival of the IS convertible, sources say the more expensive SC hardtop convertible will be dropped. Lexus sold just 542 SC units through July.
LF-A: The performance car could appear next year as a 2011 model. Initially it was expected that it would be powered by a 500-hp V-10. Now there is talk of a twin-turbo V-8. No word on horsepower.
RX: A redesign of the small crossover debuted in February. The wheelbase for the 2010 RX is an inch longer, and the overall length is stretched 1.6 inches.
GX: This truck-based SUV could migrate to the GS car platform when it is redesigned for the 2010 model year. Seven-passenger seating will be retained.
LX: No major changes are planned through the 2012 model year.