Lexus may not achieve 2012 sales target for the US market

Article by Anita Panait, on October 12, 2012

Lexus, the luxury car unit of Toyota Motor Corp., announced that it may fail to achieve its sales target for the United States this year. According to Kazuo Ohara, executive vice president for Lexus, the luxury brand’s sales in the US are slightly behind the set targets. Ohara said that Lexus’ ES model, which was introduced in August 2012, may help boost the brand’s US sales for the rest of 2012.

Ohara said in an interview with Bloomberg in Tokyo, Japan, that Lexus has targeted to sell around 250,000 luxury vehicles for 2012, but the goal is now “looking to be tough," Lexus’ performance in the US, its largest market, was negatively affected by the stiffer competition posed by its luxury car rivals like BMW.

Toyota this week posted its largest decline in sales in China since 2008, and announced a global recall for around 7.43 million Toyota-badged vehicles for a faulty power-window switch. Toyota, which was toppled in 2011 by General Motors Co. as the world’s largest carmaker, is aiming to post a strong comeback this year, forecasting total global sales of around 9.76 million units, or equivalent to a 23-percent growth over last year.

Toyota’s current priority for Lexus is to have the luxury brand regain its lost market share, since the latter’s vehicles fetch higher prices than Toyota-brand cars. According to Autodata Corp., the annual target for Lexus sales in the U.S. is around 46 percent higher than deliveries in the first nine months of 2012, which is about 170,990 units.

In developing the new Lexus GS, the engineers of the brand made sure to put extra attention on its agility and strength. The ultimate goal was to have a vehicle that would be able to offer a driving experience that was more engaging. To make this happen, the engineering team created a new body, one that was stiffer, aerodynamic, and showed a wider stance.

That’s not all as the transmission was modified so that shifts would be faster with the engine and exhaust delivering a sound that is truly unique. With the number of spot welds being increased as well as specific areas having laser welds added to them, the platform of the new Lexus GS shows more rigidity when compared to the prior version. By utilizing aluminum, the unsprung weight was lowered which meant that not only was agility improved but it also enhanced the steering precision, body control, and comfort.

The ventilated disc brakes meanwhile come with the aluminum 4-piston calipers on the front and have been fitted with the most current in electronic technology to deliver better control and braking balance. For the track, the front is now wider by 40 mm with the rear made wider as well by 50 mm. This works well with the redesigned suspension so that the stance is more confident and cornering performance is exceptional.

Talking about the suspension system, the goal for the brand was to design it in a way that would allow the Lexus GS to go through corners in a more precise manner. The front part has the upper portion of the control arms made of aluminum, and using larger bushings, like the lower control arms. Since it uses a new multi-link suspension in the rear, the subframe in this area has been redesigned as well. Through the stiffer platform combined with the lighter parts and the shock absorbers that utilize lighter-viscosity oil, the new Lexus GS is able to respond faster even with small inputs.

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