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Lexus To Expand Lineup In Effort To Regain U.S. Sales Crown

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After losing its sales crown in the crucial U.S. luxury auto market to BMW and Mercedes-Benz for the first time in 11 years, Lexus is now eyeing an expansion of its fleet with several new and sporty models.

Already scheduled for introduction this year are nine new or updated models including the new 2013 GS 350 and GS 450h, facelifted 2013 LX 570, and tweaked versions of the ES and IS ranges.

However, Lexus knows that to regain its sales crown it will have to lure in new customers to the brand and to do so it will need a sportier image.

We’re already reported on Lexus considering the introduction of a high-performance CT 200h as well as a seven-seat crossover. However, in a recent interview with Automotive News (subscription required), Lexus global product planner and marketing chief Karl Schlicht said the CT 200h is primed for new variants and that the automaker also needs a sporty coupe.

Schlicht said that a production version of the LF-LC concept car from last week’s 2012 Detroit Auto Show could be launched with a pricetag between $100,000 and $130,000, making it a clear rival for the likes of the Mercedes-Benz CL Class. Lexus certainly has room in its lineup for such a vehicle. Pricing for the range-topping LS 600h L maxes out at less than $120,000 and then there's nothing until you get to the astronomically priced LFA at around $375,000.

Schlicht also said that there was room for more sporty coupes below that, and Lexus general manager Mark Templin has also revealed to Automotive News that he’d like to see a successor for the popular SC 430, which was priced around $70,000 before it was dropped from the market back in 2010.

The good news is that we’re likely to see slow selling models like the HS 250h dropped in the near future, as well as a move from body-on-frame models like the current LX to more car-like unibody designs. We also won’t see any models positioned below the CT 200h, as Lexus can rely on Toyota’s lineup to help it meet harsher fuel efficiency regulations.
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  1. The poor CT needs more than a few ponies. The back seats are too small and the steering felt washed out on the demo I drove. If they could fix the interior layout in the IS I think it would have more potential at their next hybrid big seller.
     
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