By on March 13, 2017

2018 Lexus LC500 front – Image: Lexus

Lexus has lofty goals for the new LC performance coupe, a two-car range encompassing V8 and V6 hybrid cars. The Lexus LC, Toyota’s premium division hopes, will attract 400 buyers in America per month.

That’s a big number.

Granted, Toyota sells more than 1,000 Camrys in the United States every day. In fact, Lexus sells 300 copies of the RX, America’s all-conquering premium utility vehicle, every day.

But the 2018 Lexus LC is not America’s best-selling midsize car 15 years running, nor is the LC the dominant luxury crossover in a market gone gaga for luxury crossovers. The Lexus LC, on the other hand, is a $92,995–106,295 Japanese coupe. 400 monthly sales for a two-door priced in that stratosphere is truly a big number.

And Lexus believes it will outsell the Jaguar F-Type, Porsche Cayman, Mercedes-Benz SLC, and Audi TT. Lexus believes the LC will sell roughly three times more often than the Nissan GT-R ever has. Lexus intends to attract more buyers with the LC than Mercedes-Benz can with The Establishment, the SL-Class; more buyers than BMW attracts with the vast BMW 6 Series range.

Why? Lexus certainly has its reasons.

Time and time again, we attempt to obtain a fairly accurate portrayal of an automaker’s hopes and dreams for an all-new product and come up empty. “We don’t discuss future products,” they’ll say. “That information is for internal purposes only,” the official party line will read. “We can’t comment on company forecasts.”

2018 Lexus LC500 profile - Image: Lexus

When it come to the Lexus LC, however, Lexus is keen to share. Described by Nancy Hubbell, senior communications manager at Lexus, there are essentially three reasons behind the company’s aspirations for the LC: inner belief, the LF-LC Concept’s relationship to the production car, and the clinics.

“The 400 per-month sales goal for the LC was determined by numerous factors that reflect the strength of the LC and the Lexus brand,” Hubbell told TTAC, voicing the faith Lexus has in a new product precisely because it’s a Lexus in Lexus’ biggest market. 49 percent of all Lexus vehicles sold globally are sold in the United States, where Lexus competes with Mercedes-Benz and BMW to lead all premium auto brands in sales.

“Our confidence started with the tremendous response to the LF-LC show car that debuted at the Detroit Auto Show in 2012,” Hubbell continues. “The styling was hailed by consumers and was carried over to the production car.”

Indeed, while we consistently have reason to complain that show cars don’t translate to production cars nearly as faithfully as they ought to, the Lexus LC500 and LC500h are accurate representations of the Lexus LF-LC Concept from 2012’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

We certainly know Lexus was excited about the LF-LC Concept in 2012. “You know, the first time I saw this car, I was speechless,” Lexus division manager Mark Templin said at the time.

Conversations with actual well-heeled performance coupe customers, however, have enabled Lexus to talk so excitedly about the LC’s potential.

“We held a dynamic clinic early last year and the feedback from customers was clear that the LC will be strong player in the luxury coupe market,” Hubbell says. On this basis, Lexus doesn’t merely intend to steal buyers from the 6 Series, SL-Class, and F-Type, but Hubbell says the LC will earn “some consideration from Aston Martin and Maserati customers,” as well.

2018 Lexus LC500 rear - Image: Lexus

Regardless of whether Lexus sells 200, 300, or 400 LCs per month, one high-dollar sports car will continue to stand head and shoulders above the rest. That’s a given. Even in 2016, when Porsche’s U.S. 911 volume fell to a four-year low, Porsche was selling nearly twice as many 911s per month as Lexus plans to sell LCs. The 911 operates on a different plane. Disrupting the 911’s momentum isn’t worthy of consideration.

But Lexus has production capacity to build up to 500 LCs per month for the U.S. market, if necessary. 80-90 percent of U.S. buyers are likely to opt for the naturally aspirated LC500 — 5.0-liter V8, 471-horsepower, 10-speed automatic — rather than the more costly and portly hybrid.

Both the LC500 and LC500h go on sale in the U.S. in May.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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70 Comments on “Can A Truly Expensive Upstart Sports Car Sell Well In 2017? Lexus Has Very High Hopes For The New LC...”


  • avatar
    TMA1

    I’m baffled at Lexus’s marketing research. Maserati = Aston Martin > 6 Series, SL-Class, and F-Type?

    Maserati? I guess, if shoppers never sat in an LX car.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      LC = RC-F GT3 homologation in marketing speak.

      • 0 avatar
        tjh8402

        I don’t see how the LC is a homologation special. The homologation special for the RC-F GT3 is the RC-F. The LC shares no major components with the RC-F (street or racecar) other than probably the engine. Now the 4.0T V-8 LC-F would make a nice homologation program for that engine so it could be used in a DPi, GT-LM car (either the RC or LC) or to swap with the 5.0 in the RC-F GT3 (if they think the rules would favor the smaller turbo engine) since GT regs allow engine swaps.

  • avatar
    Corey Lewis

    RWD personal luxury? Yes.
    V8 cheaper than V6 hybrid version? Yes.
    Side profile reminiscent of a current Camaro? Yep.

    I’m not so sure. I think If I’m shopping this category I go with the SL.

    • 0 avatar
      tresmonos

      I would too. Or an Audi. Shopping with my mother makes me realize what the status quo shopper looks for, though. A softer, tame, milquetoast ride. Sparkly paint. ‘Good’ acceleration. Whatever the neighborhood status symbol is (the ‘well to do’ women of her region all drive Lexi).

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      I think Lexus would get my internet dollars.

      I quite like the S-class coupe and cab but those are like 30% more.

      Although I’d still rather have a f*cking V8 LS.

      • 0 avatar
        Corey Lewis

        Wasn’t the S-Class cabrio a limited production thing that’s like $300,000+?

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          No, they currently sell them as normal production at the very reasonable starting price of $131K.

          https://www.mbusa.com/mercedes/vehicles/class/class-S/bodystyle-CAB

          • 0 avatar
            Corey Lewis

            Oh mere pennies!

            I have to look up the thing I saw then, I’m not sure why it was so costly.

            http://europe.autonews.com/article/20161116/COPY/311169974/mercedes-maybach-drops-top-with-limited-edition-s-class-cabriolet

            It was the Maybach one, that’s why.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      I’ve looked, and looked, and left the site and came back and looked again, and I just don’t see where you get Camaro out of the LC. I see a combination of Aston, Renault Alpine, and predator grille.

      • 0 avatar
        Corey Lewis

        So where I’m seeing it is in the rear half, in the side profile picture.

        http://www.chevrolet.com/content/dam/Chevrolet/northamerica/usa/nscwebsite/en/Home/Vehicles/Performance/2016_Camaro/Model_Overview/01_images/2016-chevrolet-camaro-six-sports-car-mo-design-1480×551-01.jpg

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          Nope, still don’t see it. To my eye they look about as different as two modern sport coupes can look. The Camaro has a Coke-bottle beltline/side profile and the LC’s is straight. The Camaro and LC have totally different rear greenhouse treatments. The surface details are totally different too.

  • avatar
    tresmonos

    If they make it a drop top, definitely. My mom is a big 3 convert driving a Lexus. She wants an automatic roadster since she parted with her standard trans Solstice. A 2 door drop top with the same Lexus faux luxo trim would capture her money. This having a v8 would get my old man on board to spend more than what they are looking to spend.

    Right now I’m praying that she gets a Miata.

  • avatar
    OldManPants

    Sparing no effort, Lexus managed to make the rear ugly, too.

    So Japanese!

  • avatar
    cdotson

    Looks like a Genesis coupe given the CR-Z treatment and priced like an S-class. How could it possibly go wrong?

  • avatar
    RobbieAZ

    There’s no way I’d ever drop 100 large for any Lexus. If that means I’m being a badge snob I can live with that.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    Good luck with that.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    It gives you some of the “wow” styling of the BMW i8 for a little less money, although once you’re in the market for a $100K grand-touring coupe, what’s another $20K?

  • avatar
    sirwired

    My wife can’t get past the hourglass-shaped gaping maw they affix to the front of all their cars these days. And folks thought the Acura beak was bad… sheesh.

  • avatar
    05lgt

    Remind me to win the lottery so I can tell you which of the 2 door performance coupes gets my $$. I like the profile of these, and the pictures seem to target Austin as much as anyone with the “is that Scotland?” images. If they can pull some sales from Range Rover Cayenne and LX making traffic easier to see over and easier on my eyes I’ll be appreciative.

  • avatar
    thats one fast cat

    I occasionally visit another car-related web site for fun; I’m not proud of my surfing habits, so let’s not name it here.
    However, they have a daily feature that I believe applies to Lexus belief that they are going to sell over 3000 of these cars per annum:

    CRACK PIPE.

    Lexus, you need help.

  • avatar
    Click REPLY to reload page

    The comments so far seem to indicate that this will be a car for women.
    The car-buying psychology for spoiled women is very different than that of petrolhead men.
    There should be two versions of the LC, then – a sparkly, shiny version for the women with a lower performance engine (so they don’t wreck it, and such excellence isn’t wasted), and a high-performance, better handling version (with manual transmission, of course) for those who might occasionally put its many outstanding parameters to proper use.

    There will be quite a few who will appreciate its depreciation in a few years, naturally.

    • 0 avatar
      Corey Lewis

      The convertible will be for women of a certain age with “blonde” hair (like the SC430) and the coupe will be for men (like the SC300/400).

    • 0 avatar
      Snooder

      My sister sent me a picture and asked what I thought, since she liked it and thought about it for a trade up on her RC200T when her student loans are paid off.

      I told her it was gonna cost 100 grand asked she said “no fucking way”.

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    I looked at one of these shortly after looking at the new DB11 at the Chicago Auto Show. In person, no lie, it’s a tossup which one looks better. And this is ~half the price.

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    This will be interesting to watch. Lexus recently has definitely been churning out interesting (in a good way) cars. The big N/A V8 is a unique characteristic it shares only with Maserati while the Germans have all gone small silent (except AMG) turbos. We say most buyers don’t care about things like powertrains, but who knows. They may still like a little V8 rumble and n/a throttle response without Italian car reliability questions and a far bigger and highly rated dealer network.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    How many RCs and RC-Fs do they sell in a month? If those are doing well, this *might* have a chance. I say *might*.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    So, RWD and a naturally aspirated V8 that reportedly sounds fantastic, in a luxury coupe that handles and has steering feel, wrapped in sheet metal that will certainly be noticed. I can see why the comments have largely been negative thus far.

    Anticipated sales may be complete pie-in-the-sky, but the car itself looks to be a nice piece. If this is a rich old lady’s car, then the Corvette Z06 is a feeble old man’s car, and in either case it wouldn’t matter once you’re behind the wheel.

    • 0 avatar

      did you just say steering feel and Lexus in the same sentence?

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        Indeed I did, but I’m obviously paraphrasing from other sources. MT, C&D, R&T say there is, TopGear and Autoweek say there isn’t.

        This Lexus is a grand tourer more than a sports car, but the R&T author made it plain that it was more nimble than the BMW 6 series and Mercedes S coupe that it is intended to compete with, so that seems like a big enough departure from Lexus’s prior reputation. The GS-F and F-Sport versions of the IS350 and GS350 were already working on that front.

    • 0 avatar
      SPPPP

      I agree with you. I think this car is … slightly awesome. And I am not a big fan of the Predator Maw, but it looks somewhat nice with the rest of this design. The car itself seems like a very capable and luxurious car with some analog feel and responsiveness to it. Why is that a bad thing? The only real negative for me is the price. I will have to scour Craigslist in my later years if I want to own one.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Setting a goal like this is just setting Lexus up for the unnecessary perception of failure. Dumb move.

    This is a halo car, plain and simple. It’s pretty, it gets everyone’s attention in the showroom and on the road, and it makes the brand seem like more than just a purveyor of endless assembly-line luxury in the form of RXes and ESes. But it’s not going to sell a lot of copies, regardless of how good it is. That’s just a function of the segment it sits in. Its value to Lexus isn’t in high sales.

    Now, after Lexus sets this goal, when it sells the likely 1500/year, everyone is going to call it a failure. Without the goal, no one would have worried abou that outcome.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    This might achieve the 400 sales per month target, but probably only for the first 4-6 months until all the “first on the block” have one. There just aren’t that many women with the wealth to buy this car (or a sugar daddy to buy it for them), and I just don’t see many men buying a Lexus sports car for themselves because the badge doesn’t impress like a Porsche, SL, Jag, or Aston.

  • avatar
    SELECTIVE_KNOWLEDGE_MAN

    For those who hate the design I recommend staying away from the EyesOn Design Awards and the design critique by Robert Cumberford.

  • avatar
    Boxerman

    I like it. Was nicer than 6 series BMW. It has LFA design cues, The NA V8 is simply better. Yes its heavy and not a track performer, but no one takes these cars to the track and the fractional performance difference to another big coupe is irrelevant. If it rides and handles well on road, as the road tests indicate, thats great.

    Its a big comfortable sporty 2 door coupe. Its not a 991 sportscar and its 150k less than an aston. The merc BMW and Audi coupes are boring and suffer from german hubris and reliability.

    My only issue is I have never driven a lexus that was not a marshmellow snoozefest behind the wheel. Mebbe like the LFa this one is different.
    s

  • avatar
    Fred

    How many LFAs did they sell? I’ve only seen one and the dealer bought it for him self.

  • avatar
    bikegoesbaa

    Am I the only one who sees “Eclipse” in the third photo above?

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    This thing is not a sports car.

    If they can get people in for test drives I think this thing can move some metal.

  • avatar
    mike978

    If the man from Lexus was rendered speechless upon gazing at the LC then he must be rendered mute for a year looking at any Aston Martin design!

  • avatar
    Truckducken

    What’s the lease payment vs. the competition?

  • avatar
    badhobz

    I don’t think it’ll do that well. How many units did the original sc430 move in a month? I doubt it was 400 and at least that had an option of being a convertible.

    Pricing is similar too along with having a V8.

    It’s a fantastic looking grand tourer but no way it’ll move that many units.

    • 0 avatar
      Timothy Cain

      Lexus did 1,200 SCs per month in 2002 and after rapid declines was still doing nearly 490 per month in 2006. Different car. Different market. Different era.

  • avatar
    N8iveVA

    Seeing it in person at the DC auto show it’s a great looking car. Better than in pictures, although there are a few angles I think are awkward. While I’m still not a fan of the spindle grille, it is probably the best implementation of it.

  • avatar
    orange260z

    I look forward to driving this car once they are at the dealer. If the car’s handling is in the same league as best in class (911) combined with Lexus build quality and reliability, this could be a real option. Unfortunately, the SC was always too far on the “luxury” side to be a competitor.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    I think they can move 400/mo It’s a huge advance from the SC430. In real-life it is truly striking, stance like nothing else out there. The interior is what will likely seal-the-deal for a lot of people it is amazing.

  • avatar
    stuki

    Who is it for? We’re not (although Japan arguably still proudly is) in the 80s/90s anymore. The geezers who can pay for this, are too arthritic to get out of a car that low. And their trophy mistresses need more space for their yogamats, 5 cases of bottle water + empties, makeup, underwear changes, plus all the junk they need to drag home from Restoration Hardware in order to keep up the I’m really not just a call girl image. And both of them have been told small cars leave them dangerously exposed to Trump voters in pickup trucks.


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