Lexus hoped to sell between 20,000 and 22,000 examples of its HS 250h annually in the U.S. Thus far, sales of the dedicated hybrid model have fallen well short of that goal.
When it first launched the car in the U.S. late last year, Lexus aimed to move between 25,000 and 30,000 HS vehicles each year. Shortly afterward, strong demand for the model in the Japanese market forced the automaker to revise those figures to 20,000 and 22,000, respectively. Lexus anticipated that those crimped figures could lead to a shortage in North America, but that hasn’t been the case.
Since it went on sale in late August, dealers have managed to sell only 11,228 copies of the HS250h. Lexus is reportedly on track to sell only 14,000 examples in the HS’ first year, almost 6000 cars fewer than it had hoped.
Lexus believes the HS’ struggle is ironically due to Toyota’s own dedicated hybrid model: the Prius.
“I think we underestimated the power of the Prius brand,” said Mark Templin, Lexus’ group vice president and general manager. “We overestimated what the market would look like based on gas prices. But if we can do 1000-1500 units a month, we feel really good about what we’re doing in the marketplace.”
Although HS sales have been rather lackluster, it is still the brand’s second-best selling hybrid behind the RX 450h crossover. In April, Lexus sold 1076 HS vehicles, while 1232 RX 450h models rolled off dealers’ lots. Both models have handily outpaced Lexus’ two other hybrid offerings. Through April, Lexus sold a total of 119 GS 450h sedans, along with a mere 40 examples of the LS 600hL.
Given Templin’s comment on the “power” of the Prius name, we’re interested in seeing how Lexus will fare with another small hybrid. The compact CT 200h is set to join the Lexus portfolio later this year, but the automaker may attempt to market it as a sporty alternative to younger buyers shopping BMW’s 1-Series range.
Source: Ward’s Auto, Toyota