Lexus International President Yoshihiro Sawa said the company hopes to attract executive-level customers in their 40s or 50s. Incremental ES sales from Japan may also buttress global volumes for the nameplate as consumer tastes in the U.S. and elsewhere shift toward crossovers and SUVs.
Lexus launched the redesigned seventh-generation ES here Oct. 24 at its Lexus Meets brand lounge near down-town Tokyo's glitzy Ginza shopping district. Lexus said it has received 2,000 preorders for the ES, about 70 percent from existing Lexus customers. About half the customers are corporate buyers, Sawa said.
The ES sales target is 350 vehicles per month in Japan and 11,500 a month globally. Lexus' sales in Japan more than doubled to 33,000 units in the first six months of 2018.
Lexus aims to ramp up marketing efforts to stoke interest in the new sedan. The Lexus Meets lounge, for example, offers hourlong test drives of every Lexus nameplate.
"We are still a young brand," Sawa said. "We will offer experiences that surprise new customers through marketing and step up our exposure." Parent Toyota Motor Corp. began selling vehicles under the Lexus brand in Japan in 2005.
In Japan, Lexus offers the ES only as a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder hybrid variant. Lexus has also equipped it with what the company calls the world's first digital side-view monitor, which it says improves visibility and safety. The new camera-mirror combination will be available as a 216,000 yen (about $1,900) option on the new ES 300h version L in Japan.
Sawa said Lexus is considering the video-mirror technology for other markets, such as Western Europe, but is still assessing overseas regulations and demand.
The ES is built at Toyota's Kyushu plant in southern Japan and its Georgetown plant in Kentucky. A Toyota spokesman said ES supply for Japan will come from Kyushu, which may also serve to supplement ES production for North America.