Fleet News

Lexus cruises on to a record

PRESTIGE car maker Lexus looks set for a record year in the UK with sales set to top 8,000 units by the end of the year, which would confirm the market as the brand's second biggest in the world after the United States. If Lexus achieves its 1999 target it would mean it more than doubles its 1998 sales (3,200 units).

This growth has been aided by the development of new Lexus car dealerships appearing across the UK from this month, deliberately designed to create a separate brand identity apart from its parent company Toyota. By the end of this year 15 of the new eclipse-shaped buildings will be operating with the total set to reach 57 by the end of 2000.

The challenge facing Andy Simpson, Lexus corporate business manager, is how to ensure exclusivity is retained at the same time as satisfying increasing demand. 'The corporate market is a brave new world for us and the response I've had has been remarkable. Everyone is keen to talk to us and a number of other manufacturers have been ringing us up saying we've got our strategy right.'

Simpson quoted recent deals with BT and Barclays taking 50 units each as examples of the increasing corporate acceptance of Lexus. But, he said, while sales are up and the range is set to expand to eight cars in two years' time volumes will be carefully controlled. He said: 'I've seen residual values of 52% at three years/60,000 miles from HSBC and we've achieved this by sticking to the story we've told leasing companies and large fleet customers that although we will reach a new sales record we will not be bringing in a load more cars.

'They didn't think we would stick to our word, but by doing so have earned their trust. There has also been a burst of activity from BMW, sales are up and now people want to offset the exposure they've had with them which has brought residuals down by going into something a little more exclusive.' Four new Lexus cars will be launched in 2000. One is the new sports coupe convertible, which was debuted at the Tokyo Motor Show, the second is the RX 4x4, given its UK debut at Earls Court. Simpson revealed the remaining two would be executive vehicles.

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