Amid Comparisons To Buick, Lexus Concedes Luxury Sales Title
Left Lane News
July 11, 2011
by Nat Shirley
With significant lost sales in the wake of the devastating Japanese earthquake and tsunami , it is all but certain that Lexus’s 11-year reign as the top selling luxury brand in the U.S. will come to an end. Whether the brand will rebound to the top of the sales charts in 2012 and beyond is far less definite, leading one analyst to suggest that the brand is on its way to being the Buick of yore.
Lexus U.S. sales are projected to fall to by about 17 percent to 190,000 in 2011, said Lexus Division general manager Mike Templin. A difficult first half saw Lexus selling 88,010 vehicles as arch rivals BMW and Mercedes-Benz moved 113,705 and 110,926 units, respectively. That gap will likely prove too great for Lexus to overcome during the second half of 2011.
However, the difficulties at Lexus may extend beyond supply shortages caused by the devastation in Japan. Industry analyst Aaron Bragman of IHS Automotive suggested that Lexus could face “quite a challenge” to reclaim its sales crown due to an increasing perception that the brand builds vehicles best suited to septuagenarians.
Demand for Buicks is up 34 percent this year to 93,599 units. Buoyed by a pair of new premium sedans, the General Motors unit is quickly shedding its image as a stagnant brand for ever-aging buyers. By contrast, Lexus sales are down 24 percent through the first six months of 2011.
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