By on September 15, 2017

2018 Lexus LC - Image: LexusTiming is tough.

Toyota’s Lexus luxury marque launched the fourth-generation Lexus LS for the 2007 model year, just prior to an economic collapse that was followed up by an anti-car/pro-SUV shift. Lexus, which averaged more than 25,000 annual U.S. sales of its LS flagship sedan during its third generation and then topped 35,000 sales in 2007, suddenly found itself struggling to top the 10K marker.

As the fourth-gen LS’s tenure came to an end, Lexus watched as demand for the LS quickly collapsed. From fewer than 11,000 sales in 2013 and fewer than 9,000 in 2014 to barely more than 7,000 in 2015 and only 5,514 in 2016, the once hugely successful Lexus LS — a former leader of America’s large luxury sedan class and the car that was responsible for the genesis of Lexus — became an afterthought.

The fifth-generation Lexus LS is set to go on sale this winter, and Lexus expects to see a huge increase in demand for the new car in 2018. Lexus does not, however, expect the LS to generate anything like the kind of interest the big sedan did prior to the proverbial global financial crisis.

According to Automotive News, which says the 2018 Lexus LS500 will be priced around $76,000 (up by roughly $2,500 compared with the MY2017 LS), Lexus anticipates U.S. sales of roughly 1,000 per month with the new model.

Over the last year, Lexus has averaged around 500 LS sales per month.

Doubling volume would be an impressive accomplishment, though that would only take the Lexus LS back to approximately 12,000 annual sales, hardly the 27,400-unit annual average Lexus produced in the half-decade before the recession. Times, of course, have changed. BMW sold 17,500 copies of the 7 Series per year between 2003-2007 but now averages 10,800 per year. The Mercedes-Benz S-Class averaged 23,300 annual U.S. sales between 2003-2007 but now averages 18,200 per year. Jaguar used to sell 7,700 XJs per year but now sells 4,400 annually.

It’s a segment-wide curse, in other words, one that’s been followed by an industry-wide blessing. These brands all sell boatloads of SUVs/crossovers now, vehicles that have effectively replaced large luxury sedans in many driveways.2018 Lexus LS interior - Image: LexusSo how will Lexus deliver on its forecast? “We do expect to attract people from different brands who may have drifted away,” says Lexus’ marketing general manager, seemingly acknowledging that the outgoing Lexus LS didn’t do enough to keep buyers in the fold. The new LS adopts a longer, lower, wider appearance that emphasizes its non-SUV bodystyle, and Lexus says the brand has taken on a more performance-oriented tone, not wanting the LS to be seen merely as the sedate and cautious choice.

This isn’t the first time Lexus has been forthright with its sales expectations for a new car. The Lexus LC, with which the LS shares its turbocharged V6 and ten-speed automatic, was intended to attract 400 U.S. buyers per month. But after doing so in its first two months on the market, LC sales slid to 313 in July and 291 in August, its fourth month of availability. On the other hand, Lexus was ready to sell 2,200 copies of the entry-level NX crossover per month and ended up more than doubling that figure.

[Image: Toyota Motor Corp.]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and and the founder and former editor of Follow on Twitter @timcaincars and Instagram.

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24 Comments on “Toyota Expects Lexus LS Sedan Sales to Take Off Again, but Not Nearly to Historic Levels...”

  • avatar

    I figured out what Lexus’s design theme reminds me of.

    remember cartoons like Bugs Bunny and Tom & Jerry back in the day, where one of the characters would spike another’s (usually Tom, or Sylvester) with alum and their faces would contract into a vicious pucker?

    That’s what every Lexus looks like.

  • avatar

    The early Lexus LS models also had a striking resemblance to certain German automobiles for far less money. May have helped prop up sales initially.

  • avatar

    Why are all my comments awaiting moderation and get deleted? Everything I posted yesterday is gone today. Why do you hate me TTAC??

    • 0 avatar

      You’re triggering the spam filter using words like sex, suicide, sucks, or killed in every comment. You’re doing it to the extent that it’s thinking you’re an inappropriate comment generator.

      • 0 avatar

        I keep it pretty tame. I might say things like that but never in the bannable context way. I didn’t realize I was I was subject to such censorship, it’s stifling my creativity and freedom of expression ;)

        Thanks Corey

      • 0 avatar

        sex, suicide, sucks, or killed
        sex, suicide, sucks, or killed
        sex, suicide, sucks, or killed
        sex, suicide, sucks, or killed

        I’d say the spam filter is filtering about as well as Andy Dalton plays QB these days, Corey…

  • avatar

  • avatar

    Sales may take off again but the LS will never again be the Halo car of the brand. LS has symbolized the ultimate luxury car for less than $200k, without that traditional Toyota power stance, what is it?

    It’s dissapointing to see a manufacturer sell out their individuality for slightly more sales.

  • avatar

    I want a V8 in my flagship sedan. I guess I’m a knuckle-dragger.

    • 0 avatar

      Or better yet, a V12, but those things are really going out of style….

      • 0 avatar

        I’m not so sure. As far as I know, all the same marques offering V12s in the past offer them now–specifically all the Europeans on their top ends, minus Jaguar. I still think they should make a comeback, as they’ve never lost their status as THE power plant for luxury and sports vehicles. I’d love to see an LS600 with a V12 hybrid setup; since I’m already in fantasyland, toss in a V12 from Genesis, and V10s for their sports cars a la LFA.

  • avatar

    Lexus/Toyota could possibly sell more vehicles if the design wasn’t so bad esp. the front bumpers.

  • avatar

    The Tesla Model S has had more than a little something to do with the collapse in sales of the S-Class, 7-series and LS worldwide. My boss is a former owner of both the LS and the S Class. He now is on his 2nd Model S. He’s not the only one.

  • avatar

    It’s ugly. Fix the grill and sales will double.

  • avatar

    This car really should have a V8.

    I don’t know why on earth everyone seems intent on dropping these for turbo 6’s. Sure power looks good, or better….but the luxury feel goes away.

  • avatar

    The LC500 and LS500 do not share the same engine. The LC uses the 5.0 V8 while the LS has exclusive rights to the new turbo V6… for now.

  • avatar

    As multiple LS owner, I’m disappointed there’s no V8 in the new car. Because I prefer a V8 in a top shelf luxury car and because Lexus makes some of the finest V8s available.

    What a shame…

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