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Lexus Celebrates 20th Sales Anniversary, Needs Younger Buyers

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2000 Lexus LS 400

2000 Lexus LS 400

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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.

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Comments (8)
  1. Here is to some......ok cars, that even though sell more then BMW and such, are still not very sporty and such. And needs younger buyers is an understatment, kind of like saying Buick needs younger buyers.
     
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  2. Why get such young buyers? If you lure the oldies, they will stay with that brand for life. The young ones won't stick to one brand until at least they are middle aged.
     
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  3. There is one huge difference between BMW and Lexus that made me buy my BMW.
    A clutch.
     
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  4. What's so good about younger buyers?
    They're not brand loyal.
    They can't afford more expensive/more profitable models.
    They often need incentives to buy - including special finance and lease deals.
    They shop for lowest price rather than best service.
    They're not as concientious about getting their cars serviced as older owners.
     
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  5. The problem with older buyers is the fact that they eventually pass away.
     
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  6. The IS is driven by younger crowd, hm.. that's about it. But I still prefer the 3 series over the IS.
     
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  7. "The problem with older buyers is the fact that they eventually pass away."
    That old saw from GM has been passed around for decades...
    ...Yes, old buyers die - but in case you haven't noticed, they're replaced by formerly young buyers who have aged and become older buyers. When that happens they no longer opt for Camaros, Mustangs, Corollas and 3-Series...
    ...they move up to Buicks, Mercurys, Avalons and 7-Series - at least they try to if the corporation hasn't pandered to the horsepower-mad automotive media and abandoned their product niche in misguided efforts to get those younger buyers with "me-too" products that neither younger nor older buyers will be caught dead in.
     
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  8. The original Lexus was a huge leap forward at the time, so anything afterwards was never going to be as big a leap.
    As one of the original UK Lexus salesman, I can always remember the first time I ever drove one. My favourite was the facelifted 1992 car with dual airbags, 16” alloys and better dampers. Happy times!
     
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