You Thought Toyota's Lexus LC Sales Expectations Were Inconceivable … And You Were Right

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain

Unless your surname is Porsche and your given name 911, the sales volumes generated by premium two-doors are frighteningly small. Lexus nevertheless brought to market the two-pronged Lexus LC range, as an indirect successor to the SC, with lofty expectations.

Moreover, Lexus was public with its goals, going so far as to respond directly to TTAC to defend the company’s reasoning.

If early figures were all we had to go by, the initial hype surrounding the $90K+, V8-engined LC500 and its hybrid LC500h sibling indisputably produced goal-besting results. More than a year into its tenure, however, it’s now clear that the LC has fallen wildly short of fulfilling Lexus’ hopes.

It was internal reactions, auto show response, and customer clinics that persuaded Lexus of the LC’s U.S. sales performance possibilities. “The first time I saw this car,” then Lexus division manager Mark Templin said of the LF-LC Concept in 2012, “I was speechless.”

“Our confidence started with the tremendous response to the LF-LC show car that debuted at the Detroit Auto Show in 2012,” Lexus communications manager Nancy Hubbell told TTAC last year. Then came a “dynamic clinic” in 2016 where Lexus heard feedback from customers that suggested “the LC will be a strong player in the luxury coupe market.”

The result was a 400 per month sales goal for the LC range. Lexus even stated its capacity to supply the United States with 500 LCs per month if demand was sufficient.

It wasn’t. It isn’t. It won’t be.

Just as the B&B predicted.

Comments on the early LC story included one from dal20402: “Setting a goal like this is just setting Lexus up for the unnecessary perception of failure.” badhobz said, “Dumb move. I don’t think it’ll do that well.” This was the general tenor of responses to Lexus, though there were some believers, and some, like stingray65, who thought Lexus could live up to its internal expectations for perhaps 4-6 months.

It turns out the LC was only capable of sustaining that high level of demand for two months. 419 were sold in May 2017. Then Lexus moved 423 in June of last year. A 402-unit month in July 2017 marked the end of Lexus hitting its target. Over the last 13 months, Lexus’ monthly average has fallen 48-percent shy of the 400-unit expectation. In the doldrums of winter, January and February combined for a paltry 304 total LC sales.

Granted, the Lexus LC is outselling the more costly Mercedes-AMG GT by more than 50 units per month and sells roughly as often as Mercedes-Benz’s SL-Class. The Lexus generates more than four times the volume of the aged and more performance-oriented Nissan GT-R.

On the other hand, with its vast 911 range, Porsche is on track for a three-year sales high of nearly 10,000 units, producing twice as many sales in an average month as Lexus did LC sales at the car’s peak.

That, of course, is an unfair comparison. Nothing competes with the 911. It’s in another league.

The Lexus LC, however, was supposed to compete with itself, and with the company’s own internal expectations.

No can do.

[Image: Lexus]

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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  • Ecloebl Ecloebl on Sep 22, 2018

    A quick google search reveals nine near new low mileage lc500‘s offered for under $80,000. Another one or two seem to appear each day.

    • Noble713 Noble713 on Sep 23, 2018

      Recently a friend of mine heading back stateside was online car shopping for a new luxury/high-performance ride. I was flabbergasted at how inexpensive used vehicles in the premium/luxury segment are in the States (stuff like Maseratis, Porsche Cayman, Aston Martins, various older AMGs...). This Lexus is absolutely gorgeous and has neck-snapping road presence in person, but I think it has some extremely stiff competition Stateside. They also have a ~$25k price premium in Japan -_-, even taking the currently favorable exchange rate into account, so it'll be a LONG time before I can park a high-mileage one of these in a garage next to my Supra.

  • El scotto El scotto on Sep 22, 2018

    My Lexus dealer keeps one in front. It's all they really need to do. The car looks even better in person. Bring your quarters there's an Aldi across the street.

  • Wjtinfwb Funny. When EV's were bursting onto the scene; Tesla's, Volt's, Leaf's pure EV was all the rage and Hybrids were derided because they still used a gas engine to make them, ahem; usable. Even Volt's were later derided when it was revealed that the Volt's gas engine was actually connected to the wheels, not just a generator. Now, Hybrids are warmly welcomed into the Electric fraternity by virtue of being "electrified". If a change in definition is what it takes, I'm all for it. Hybrid's make so much sense in most American's usage patterns and if needed you can drive one cross-country essentially non-stop. Glad to see Hybrid's getting the love.
  • 3-On-The-Tree We also had a 1973 IH Scout that we rebuilt the engine in and it had dual glass packs, real loud. I miss those days.
  • 3-On-The-Tree Jeff thanks. Back in 1990 we had a 1964 Dodge D100 with a slant six with a 3 on the tree. I taught myself how to drive a standard in that truck. It was my one of many journeys into Mopar land. Had a 1973 Plymouth duster with a slant six and a 1974 Dodge Dart Custom with 318 V8. Great cars and easy to work on.
  • Akear What is GM good at?You led Mary............................................What a disgrace!
  • Randy in rocklin I have a 87 bot new with 200k miles and 3 head gasket jobs and bot another 87 turbo 5 speed with 70k miles and new head gaskets. They cost around 4k to do these days.