But a recent stop sale notice, along with a lack of supply from head office, means there’s still plenty of room for improvement.
Lexus has defied the downwards trend in the luxury market throughout 2019, and it’s crediting its range of hybrid vehicles for the results.
Toyota’s luxury arm was up 5.9 per cent in May and has exactly matched 2018 sales year-to-date. That’s in stark contrast with BMW (down 3.8 per cent year-to-date), Audi (down 29 per cent), and Mercedes-Benz cars (down 14 per cent).
“Consumers in Australia have now been educated on the benefits of hybrid-electric… it’s improving fuel efficiency, and it basically is a great car to drive, so I think we’re benefitting from all those things at the moment,” Scott Thompson, Lexus Australia CEO told CarAdvice.
At the moment, around 30 per cent of Lexus volume is hybrid. For the compact UX SUV, the split between pure internal-combustion and hybrid is closer to 50/50.
“Unfortunately global demand for hybrid has improved dramatically over the last 12 months,” Thompson lamented. “In the foreseeable future it will be tight, hopefully by early next year we’ll be looking to increase the supply.”
Last week’s stop sale notice poses another threat to Lexus’ sales ambitions. A suspected brake fault has forced the stop-sale notice, which affects the ES and UX. Thompson didn’t offer a timeframe for when the stop sale will be lifted, nor any more details about the issue causing it.
“This is a precautionary measure only at this stage and we are in the process of investigation,” Toyota said in a statement.
“Vehicle inspections have commenced and we will provide further details on expected completion timing and the subsequent lifting of this sales stop, as soon as possible.”
The UX accounted for 145 sales in May, while the ES was good for another 60.