December is typically a peak month for automotive sales, especially among premium brands. With more holiday-themed ads than the majority of its competition, Lexus always sees the year’s final month of sales as its best. However, it did so well last December that January saw a 26 percent drop in sales due to an exhausted supply of sport utility vehicles.
With the narrowest of exceptions for the LX, last December turned out to be the best month in the history of all of Lexus’ SUVs. The bad news is that most of those sales came at the expense of the automaker’s sedans, which saw comparatively low sales. At around 41,000 units, December 2016 wasn’t all that much different from 2015. However, cars made up a significantly smaller piece of that pie.
Jeff Bracken, general manager of the Japanese Luxury brand, told Automotive News that he partially faults the LS engine swap (no, not that kind) for its lackluster sales. “If there’s a question, it’s the V6 twin turbo,” Bracken explained. “I think there are still some journalists that are like “Nah, but it isn’t a V8.'”
The company downplays the V6 on its website, going so far as to highlight the old model’s V8 engine in the preliminary menu. However, that LS-specific issue doesn’t account for the overall sedan sales slump or why the company was in such short supply of SUVs last month — changing consumer preferences do. Sales of Lexus utility vehicles comprised about half of last month’s below-anticipated volume, while Bracken admits that the overall market was around 65 percent.
Bracken wants to see Lexus get RXs and GXs back onto lots to meet demand, however, he doesn’t anticipate supplies to normalize until at least March.
[Image: Toyota Motor Corp.]