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.”
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.
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.