Lexus has high hopes for the LC, we told you in March. Not yet on sale at that point, Lexus was entirely transparent about the company’s belief that it could sell 400 copies of the LC500 and hybridized LC500h every month in America.
“That’s a big number,” I wrote six months ago, expressing a measure of doubt. But Lexus was insistent, based on “tremendous response to the LF-LC show car” from 2012, a successful carryover to production of concept car design, and “positive feedback in customer clinics.”
Doubt was expressed by most commenters, as well. “Good luck with that,” Master Baiter told Lexus. “Lexus, you need help,” said thats one fast cat. “Setting a goal like this is just setting Lexus up for the unnecessary perception of failure,” dal20402 wrote. “Dumb move.” badhobz said, “I don’t think it’ll do that well.”
It’s been half a year. It’s time for the Lexus LC to stand up and be counted.
To be fair, a number of B&B members believed Lexus was right about the fact that the LC500 and LC500h would outsell a wide variety of high-end coupes. At 400/month, Lexus’ $92,995-$106,295 coupe would prove more popular than the Nissan GT-R and Mercedes-Benz SL and BMW 6 Series, but also more affordable cars such as the Jaguar F-Type, Porsche Cayman, and Audi TT. “I think they can move 400/mo,” wrote Lightspeed. “This might have a chance,” dukeisduke said at the time.
Lexus launched the LC by meeting its target. 419 copies of the Lexus LC500 and LC500h were sold in May; another 423 in June. Even after LC sales slowed in July and August, Lexus is still averaging 362 LC sales per month, within 10 percent of the company’s goal.
Of course, it’s early. The fact that Lexus is already reporting decreased LC sales is in keeping with the broad sporty car sector in which it competes. You might recall, for instance, the Scion FR-S — now known as the Toyota 86 — which launched with great fanfare and produced 2,684 sales in its first full month on the market, June 2012.Never once since has Toyota reported more than 2,000 FR-S/86 sales in the U.S. a single month. A year after its launch, FR-S sales were down 11 percent. Toyota now reports 622 86 sales per month, a 59-percent cut compared with 2013.
The same type of situation can be seen at the higher end, as well. The 2013 model year was the first for the current R231 iteration of the Mercedes-Benz SL-Class. Sales rose to a seven-year high of 7,007 units that year, yet U.S. SL volume is now less than half that strong.
This is why one member of the TTAC B&B, stingray65, suggested Lexus would achieve the target, “but probably only for the first 4-6 months until all the ‘first on the block’ have one.”
Nevertheless, even at August’s low point of 291 sales, the Lexus LC still managed to outsell the Jaguar F-Type and Audi TT, not to mention more comparably priced cars such as the SL-Class, 6 Series, Maserati GranTurismo, and the Nissan GT-R. Competing with the Porsche 911? That’s a whole ‘nuther ball game Lexus never claimed to play.
[Images: Toyota Motor Corp.]