Lexus Eyeing ES Production in North America

By Trevor Dorchies | June 15, 2012
The 2013 Lexus ES is all-new, and Lexus expects the redesign to pay off quickly in sales figures. The Japanese automaker is counting on first-time buyers to help inflate sales that saw a 13.4 percent drop for 2011. The all-new 2013 Lexus ES also appears to be a possible choice to be assembled in North America. First introduced in 1989 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the ES has always been built in Japan, but that may change now. “One of the requests we’ve had from our dealer council is to figure out a way to get the ES – or one of our other volume vehicles – here just to blunt the (negative effects of) currency exchange,” Tim Morrison, vice president of sales and dealer development said to WardsAuto. “(But) when you look at whether you want to shift production to North America, that’s a very big decision. It’s a lot of money, and there’s timing with changeovers, etc." Lexus has made it known that it may have a few of its vehicles assembled in North America but wouldn't disclose which when pressed. Toyota's luxury arm is also expected to release nine new or refreshed vehicles this year including its flagship, the LS. Previously, the ES shared its architecture with its Toyota sibling, the Camry but that will no longer be the case. Now the ES will sit on an independent platform but will soon have to make room for the upcoming Toyota Avalon.
It would make sense for Lexus to come to North America and set up shop for the ES, as America already accounts for 40 percent of the Japanese luxury automaker's overall sales. The U.S. is expected to absorb half of ES production with China in second with 30 percent. Europe rounds out the top three with 20 percent.  A hybrid ES is also expected to rake in new customers as that's been a request from fans of the brand for a long time now. The ES hybrid will share its nickel-metal-hydride battery, 2.5-liter gasoline-powered engine, and an electric motor that combines to put out 200 horsepower with the Camry hybrid. Lexus hopes a hybrid ES will help it climb back to the top of the luxury car heap in the U.S. after losing the number one spot last year. Lexus has a 5,000 unit per month target it plans on hitting in the U.S. once the new ES hits the market, and 250,000 units for the brand as a whole. In 2011, the Lexus ES found 41,000 new homes with brand deliveries creeping past 185,000. Lexus declined to comment on a sales target for the 2013 Lexus ES but did say it expects the hybrid variant to account for 25 percent of total sales. In an effort to meet these new sales expectations, Lexus will bolster its marketing efforts on an array of media platforms. Event marketing will also take a bigger role and can be seen as early as this weekend at the U.S. Open golf championship. An ES will be available for on-lookers to get inside to look around and even take for a test drive. As it stands now, the average age of an ES buyer fluctuates between 50 and 60 years old, and while Lexus is happy to have those customers, it's looking to get a little younger. By "younger," Lexus is looking to stay closer to the half century mark. Sales of the 2013 Lexus ES aren't expected to be felt in full force until September or October of this year when availability will be more widespread. When that time comes though, Lexus is expecting to see its sales rise drastically. What say you? Would you consider buying an ES or any other Lexus product? Tell us your reasons in the comment section below. Source: Wards Auto