Lexus' LC Convertible 'Concept' Is More Like a Halo in Waiting

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
lexus lc convertible 8216 concept is more like a halo in waiting

Late last year, Toyota Motor North America CEO Jim Lentz suggested the automaker, after taking stock of its inventory, might cut some struggling product from its store shelves. It now seems on the verge of adding a new one.

Bound for a Detroit debut, the company’s Lexus LC Convertible Concept is not a way-out pipe dream unveiled by an automaker hoping to generate buzz with an inch-deep piece of vaporware. Instead, it is simply the division’s high-zoot LC coupe, sans roof. And all of the wording surrounding the car screams that production is nearly inevitable — so long as the public responds favorably.

Toyota says the drop-top Lexus suggests the “future direction” of its flagship car, providing a detailed list of specifications to underscore what the concept has to offer (length grows by four-tenths of an inch, and that’s about it). An accompanying video superimposes phrases like “Too powerful to ignore” over seductive angles of the vehicle’s body and innards. Yes, the vestigial rear seat remains.

The company’s intentions aren’t subtle. Toyota even goes as far as calling it an “aspirational halo vehicle,” all but shouting that it wants buyers interested in a high-end drop-top that doesn’t hail from Germany.

Available in LC 500 and LC 500h hybrid form, the LC line starts at $93,225 (after delivery) for a coupe boasting 471 horsepower from its 5.0-liter V8, with power routed to the rear wheels through a 10-speed automatic transmission. Springing for the hybrid drops horsepower and raises the price. Entry price for the hybrid’s 354 hp and odd multi-stage tranny is $97,735, and it’s easy to see a convertible LC retailing for over $100k to start.

While Lentz’s November comments hinted at a product cull, his words can be interpreted as Toyota seeking to put extra effort behind certain models. “We are taking a hard look at all of the segments that we compete in to make sure we are competing in profitable segments and that products we sell have strategic value,” Lentz said.

As a high-tech, high-priced flagship, the LC has strategic value. It’s the company’s only grand tourer and, in this form, it would be the company’s only convertible.

Lexus needs a new reason for buyers to check out, and maybe slide into, its slinky two-door. Despite going on sale in early 2017, last year’s sales fell 20 percent below that of its first, truncated year on the market. Lexus moved 1,979 LCs in 2018 compared to 2017’s 2,487, and December’s sales show a 48 percent year-over-year decline. Is the LC in trouble? That depends on the brand’s expectations for the model, but falling sales and the appearance of this “concept” points to dissatisfaction among company brass.

If the automaker doesn’t built this convertible, one wonders what that means for the model’s future.

[Image: Toyota]

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  • ToolGuy VW (marque not group) and Tesla very nearly switched positions on a YTD basis.
  • RHD Inexpensive gasoline appears to be a thing of the past. ILO is correct - we have enough sunlight, wind and emerging ocean wave energy to power the entire country and then some. Clean air is nice, and being free of the whims of OPEC, geopolitics and hugely profitable oil companies will do all of us a world of good.
  • Raymond Segura Can you tell me where I can get the rear bumper for 69 impala?
  • Art Vandelay some of the crazy numbers I get. Percentages look bigger with any fluctuations with low volume makes and brands leaving the market will see massive month over month changes. But what’s with Buick? I still see the occasional ad on TV and yet the drop is disproportionate even compared to all the other GM brands.
  • Master Baiter "There is no mandate for consumers to buy EVs, not in any country or state. That’s made up."Right. And you are not mandated to purchase a toilet that only uses 1.6 gallons/flush. You could choose to not have a toilet--just go in the woods, like the bears do.