2000 Lexus LS 400Enlarge Photo
Twenty years ago to the day, Lexus officially started selling cars in the U.S., although the brand itself marks its birthday as the day it unveiled the first LS 400 at the 1989 Detroit auto show. September 1, 1989 was the day Toyota first began selling Lexus models to U.S. customers and within months the accolades started rolling in.
As early as January 1990, the Lexus LS 400 was named to Car and Driver's 10Best list, and in July 1990 Lexus first appeared in a J.D. Power and Associates study and was ranked as the number one car line in the Initial Quality Study. Today, Lexus is the top-selling luxury brand in the U.S.--although BMW is encroaching on that title--but the future of the brand’s success will rest on its ability to attract new and younger buyers.
Not wanting to tread the same path as Buick, Lexus needs to expand beyond its current core of baby boomer customers. The median age of a Lexus owner is 56, according to data from consultant AutoPacific. That's more than a decade younger than Buick, but years older than the median BMW, Infiniti or Audi buyer.
Lexus already has the quality and reliability aspects nailed. What it needs now is a more exciting lineup, which means more style and performance.
The introduction of the IS C hard-top convertible is a step in the right direction, as is the upcoming LF-A supercar, but to really attract the 25- to 40-year-old crowd the brand needs to do a lot more. In the works is a new premium hatchback entry, although this vehicle may not be sold in North America. Instead, Lexus General Manager Mark Templin has revealed to Automotive News that a new small sedan may eventually be developed to take on the BMW 1 series and Audi A3 locally. The story doesn’t end there as coupe, convertible, crossover and even hybrid versions are being considered, though any release is still years away.