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Lexus says it's not worried about LS sales decline in face of S-Class, Model S

Fri, 04 Jul 2014

The Lexus LS is old. Sure, it received a refresh for model year 2013, but it hasn't had a clean-sheet redesign since George W. Bush was in office. It's the oldest vehicle in its segment, debuting in 2007, a full year before the current-gen BMW 7 Series, two years before the Hyundai Equus and Jaguar XJ and three years before the Audi A8.

This is particularly troubling as buyers flock to the heavily redesigned Mercedes-Benz S-Class, which debuted late last year, and the all-electric Tesla Model S. Despite this move, though, Lexus is (worryingly in our minds) not at all concerned.

"We don't feel it's a problem with the car," Brian Smith, VP of marketing for Lexus, told Wards Auto. "Many of the buyers in that segment want what's new and they're trying it."

Um, we aren't totally certain, but if people "want what's new" and they aren't buying your car because of it, that means there is a problem with the car. In fact, Smith's general attitude towards the increasing gap between the LS and the competition is oddly dismissive.

According to Wards, Smith believes the luxury segment is roughly even, with no particular standouts in terms of performance, handling and aesthetics. He also questions the loyalty of Tesla customers, when asked about those that defected from the LS to the Model S.

"They'll probably come back," Smith told Wards. "I think the question remains to be seen how many people will buy a second Tesla."

Lexus has only sold 2,149 of its LS sedans through May, a decrease of 19.7 percent over the same period last year. Compare that with Mercedes, which is up a whopping 81 percent, to 6,381 units through five months, and Tesla, which while down 6.2 percent through May, has sold more than twice as many Model S EVs as Lexus has LS sedans.

Overall, the Wards piece is an interesting insight into the internal thinking at Lexus.

By Brandon Turkus

See also: Tesla 'Model E' to likely get steel construction, sane price tag, Lexus gives IS early updates for 2015, Lexus has big expectations for small NX crossover.