Can A Truly Expensive Upstart Sports Car Sell Well In 2017? Lexus Has Very High Hopes For The New LC

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain
can a truly expensive upstart sports car sell well in 2017 lexus has very high hopes

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.

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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  • Lightspeed Lightspeed on Mar 14, 2017

    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.

  • Stuki Stuki on Mar 14, 2017

    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.

  • Wjtinfwb How does the ICE mid-engine C8 platform work for... anything else? A sedan? SUV? With a mid engine configuration? A mid-engine SUV will have to be Suburban sized to offer the utility of a CRV. GM should dust off the Omega platform designed for the Cadillac CT6 for an SUV/Sedan offering with exceptional handling, Rear or AWD capability and acceptable space utilization. They also need to focus on interior fit & finish, trim choices and high quality final engineering and assembly. What GM doesn't need is another half-baked product with a storied and prestigious badge on the decklid and a premium price on the Monroney. No more Cimarron's, Allante's or X-cars needed to tarnish the reputation of Corvette.
  • InCogKneeToe BUILD It and they will come.By Build It, I mean a Vehicle that the Customer Wants and it works for them. It could be called Chevette for all that that matters. The Mach E's success isn't because it totes the Mustang on it.Just build what people want, the next Caravan/Taurus/Beetle/Maverick (truck).
  • YellowDuck Wait...how do you make a mid-engine crossover? Or even a 4-door coupe? Me not get.
  • 28-Cars-Later Thanks Corey. The head stud job on NOrthSTAR-T was $3K *years ago* as it involves an engine pull so rear wheel arch rust in and of itself isn't a show stopper. I'll be sure to check out the trunk as it may start to add up on deferred maintenance. Supposedly this was garaged so the underneath the rockers etc. should be decent but if those are shot its not gonna work.
  • Mark 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, G4NG engine with connecting rod bearing issues. Engine needs to be replaced, but Hyundai is denying warranty claim. I have all maintenance records from mile zero. It has been in Hyundai Service department 5 time in 4 months. They added the knock sensor and software update to let you know the engine is about to blow up. They kicked the can down the road doing patch work until the car was past the 120k extended extended warranty. I have that documentation too. So how can I join the class action law suit or find a Lawyer that handles these types of issues?
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