The Korea Herald


Lexus readies new GS to win sales lost to BMW, Mercedes


Published : Aug. 21, 2011 - 19:05

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Toyota Motor Corp.’s Lexus, set to lose its position as the top-selling U.S. luxury car brand after 11 years, is revamping its line to regain sales lost to Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz and Bayerische Motoren Werke AG’s BMW.

The 2013 Lexus GS 350 goes on sale in February with a new look, larger interior, and better handling and acceleration, Mark Templin, head of U.S. Lexus sales, said in a phone interview from Pebble Beach, California, after the sedan’s debut there yesterday. The car has a 306-horsepower V-6 engine, with optional “F Sport” high-performance and hybrid versions also due next year, he said.

“It’s the first of many models that will change the game for Lexus,” Templin said. The new GS has sportier performance than past versions and “is leading us into a whole new territory,” he said. 
The 2013 Lexus GS 350 ( The 2013 Lexus GS 350 (

Toyota is struggling to restock U.S. Lexus dealers left short of inventory following Japan’s record earthquake and tsunami in March. That contributed to a 19 percent drop in sales for Lexus this year through July, putting it behind BMW and Mercedes. Lexus probably won’t be the top-selling luxury car brand in the U.S. this year, a position it held from 2000 to 2010, Templin has said.

Deliveries of Lexus cars and light trucks in the U.S. totaled 102,549 so far this year. BMW’s sales rose 13 percent to 135,114 in the same period, and Mercedes rose 7.3 percent to 129,932, according to figures the companies reported this month.

“Our vision is that Lexus becomes the best, not the biggest, the best, most innovative, progressive luxury brand that delights customers from all around the world,” Akio Toyoda, Toyota’s president and chief executive officer, said in a webcast speech from Pebble Beach.

Including the GS, Lexus will release nine new or refreshed models in 2012, Toyoda said. The GS, a rear-wheel-drive model that competes with BMW’s 5-Series, “had to be improved much more,” Toyoda said.

“It needed to be designed, engineered and manufactured without compromise,” he said. “I told our engineers that we are not moving ahead unless we do it right from the start.”

Toyoda, the grandson of the company’s founder, said he is personally overseeing development Lexus models.

While U.S. dealers aren’t yet fully restocked, they will have “really healthy inventory” in the final three months of 2011, Templin said. As a result of increased vehicle supplies and new models, “we expect 2012 to be a very good year,” he said, without elaborating.

Lexus didn’t immediately provide pricing or volume goals for the GS. U.S. operations for Lexus are based in Torrance, California.