Lexus Introduces New Smaller Compact CUV
Sales of the Lexus RX have put the luxury sports utility vehicle at the top of the list here in the U.S.
But with the increasing demand for crossovers in the U.K., this could indeed be the Japanese automaker’s next target market. Globally, the SUV/CUV market has grown 87 percent since 2008, accounting for 19 percent of total vehicle sales.
Similar to the current trend in America, European drivers are looking for more room, while paying less at the pump.
When looking at the demographics, crossovers also have wider appeal. According to Tom Libby, an IHS Automotive analyst in Southfield Michigan, the crossover seems to just be more practical on a number of levels. “You have all these mid-sized vehicles that fit the needs of so many different consumers that it makes more sense to focus on them,” he said. “Large, traditional SUVs have plummeted in market share, and meanwhile crossovers are sort of scraping off a little bit of market share from just about every other vehicle type.”
Their popularity stems from the early 90’s when CUVs were first introduced to the market and now with ever-rising gas prices, the interest among consumers for more fuel-friendly alternatives has piqued.
The Lexus NX is a vehicle that has shown particular success overseas. So much so, that the car company expects about 20,000 more NX crossovers to be sold in Europe in 2015.
There’s good reason, too. When going up against the likes of the Audi Q5 and the Range Rover Evoque, the all-new NX held its ground – beating out the two luxury brands in the British court of public opinion.
Lexus of Highland Park also believes that the pricing of the compact CUV will make their vehicle more accessible to customers who may not have been likely to own a luxury CUV.
Vice-president of Lexus Europe, Alain Uyttenhoven, says about 60 percent of premium brand vehicles sold in the U.K. are priced somewhere around $57,000 ($40,000 euros) or less.
He also says that the movement toward smaller model automobiles is growing and eventually cars like the Lexus LS may even be powered by a fuel cell drivetrain.
The trend has led automakers like Lexus to consider making a subcompact or B segment SUV – one with a smaller chassis, that’s lighter on gas, and more budget conscious.
And according to Uyttenhoven, this model would be priced somewhat cheaper than Lexus’ hybrid luxury car, the CT200h and at Lexus of Highland Park, we think this move would be a welcome one, especially since the market is open for a C segment vehicle.
But as with most things, timing is everything.