Lexus Australia Boss Pleased With Performance, Expects Hybrid Growth Photo:
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2013 Lexus IS - Australia Photo:
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Peter Anderson | Oct, 09 2013 | 0 Comments

Sean Hanley, chief executive of Lexus Australia, is bullish about the company's performance and its future.

Addressing media at today's Lexus ES briefing in Sydney, Mr Hanley highlighted double-digital growth in almost every model range - with the notable exception of the hybrid-only CT 200h (which has struggled against flagging sales and buyer disinterest).

Hanley expects the new ES model to do well. In relaunching it here, Lexus is hoping to attract buyers of the previous model (7000 until its cancellation in 2006) while also stealing "conquests": buyers defecting from other brands.

"It's quite across the market. It's not productive to say where they're coming from except to say they're coming," Hanley said of the ES's appeal.

MORE: Lexus ES On Sale In Australia

Lexus is billing the ES as a mini-LS, and one key market the company believes the sedan will appeal to are people downsizing their financial commitment without stepping away from a premium car.

Hanley also believes the car stands on its own, as it sits between the C and D segments (3 and 5 Series or C- and E-class -sized cars), and would not be drawn on direct comparisons with the smaller and larger German rivals.

"Nothing competes," he said - with a smile.

The Australian arm of Lexus is also the first to offer the ES 300h hybrid as the entry-level model for the range. Hybrids are increasingly important to Lexus, with a global sales share of twenty-six percent.

Lexus here believes the mix for the ES range in Australia will be 60/40 in favour of the hybrid, with a brand-wide mix of 50/50 in the coming years.

"Ambitious, yes. Do-able, yes," Hanley said.

The ES 300h is Lexus' sixth hybrid, to be joined by a seventh towards the end of the year, the GS 300h.

The new IS, which was launched to the public the same day as the Federal Election was announced, is showing great promise, according to Hanley.

"The highlight is the IS. Despite all of the challenges [of the FBT and the election], the car has grown twenty-six per cent. It's doing what we want it to do. Website traffic is up 100 per cent in terms of IS enquiries and clicks. People are looking at this car," he said.

"We're yet to see, post election, the full sales potential of this car. We're happy. And we're more happy about the people and conquests coming in because of that car."

When asked about one of the obvious gaps in the Lexus range - the compact SUV - Hanley was coy.

"We've got the LF-NX concept car we showed at Frankfurt, but we still haven't confirmed production of a compact SUV. Having said that, I think that Lexus' credentials on concept cars to reality are pretty well understood now," he said.

MORE: Lexus ES On Sale In Australia

Above: the Lexus LF-NX, revealed in Frankfurt this year.
Above: the Lexus LF-NX, revealed in Frankfurt this year.

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