Although Lexus expects sales of its CT 200h hybrid to increase by 25% this year compared to last year, this figure still isn’t at a level that the automaker would be pleased with. In an interview with WardsAuto, Lexus U.S. group vice president and general manager Mark Templin said that with the high demand worldwide not just for the CT but also for other models that use these parts, it makes it difficult for the company to “ramp up” as fast as it wants.
He said that the hybrid will likely reach the 18,000-unit range this year based on the supply that it could get. Last year, Lexus was able to sell 14,381 CT 200hs in the U.S. The CT hatchback, which uses the same powertrain as Toyota’s Prius hybrid, is Lexus’ smallest and most affordable offering in the U.S., with the 2012 model having a starting price of $29,120.
It is also available in Japan, China and Europe. In March 2011, Japan’s auto industry became devastated by a calamity. This is the month that the CT hybrid was launched in the U.S. Toyota’s production suffered. Toyota’s plant in Kyushu, Japan, prioritized the CT and its Prius assembly-line mate. With the boost in production for the 5-door Lexus, its sales in the U.S. increased to over 1,000 units each month, exceeding its goal.
WardsAuto reported that if we include the dealer stock, units at port and models in transit, the CT boasts a 53-day supply as of the end of May. It had a 40-day supply in late April while it had only an 11-day supply in May 2011. Lexus spokesman Michael Kroll said that based on just the dealer inventory, the days’ supply has dropped to 19.
He added that the car’s sales performance this year will be affected by a thinner dealer stock and declining gasoline prices, which typically indicate a drop in hybrid demand. Templin said that the CT will attract new customers to the Lexus as well as to the luxury segment. The majority of these customers would be making the jump from the mass-market Japanese brands such as Honda, Nissan and Toyota.
It’s also likely to result to the trading in of German luxury models. Toyota said that the median buyer age for the Lexus CT is 53, lower than the brand’s median age of 59. Meanwhile, the buyers of the hatchback have a median annual household income of $150,000, higher than the $100,000 bracket initially targeted. Lexus said that it will not offer a vehicle smaller than the CT but it is possible to build other vehicles of that platform.