Auto Special: Lexus in drive to double sales in nation over next two years

Updated: 2011-10-27 07:50

By Li Fangfang (China Daily)

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BEIJING - Japanese automaker Toyota Motor Corp's luxury marque, the Lexus, aims to double its sales in China in the next two years, boosted by its green luxury fleet, a company executive said.

"We hope to sell 100,000 of our Lexus vehicles here in China in 2013, as we are on track to recover from this year's earthquake," said Kenji Nakashima, senior vice-president of Lexus China, which is under Toyota Motor (China) Investment Co Ltd.

He said that Lexus delivered 35,000 cars to Chinese consumers in the first nine months of this year, despite the production disruptions caused by the massive Japanese earthquake in March.

Auto Special: Lexus in drive to double sales in nation over next two years

"Full-year sales are expected to reach 55,000 units, slightly higher than last year's," Nakashima said.

In 2010, Lexus sales surged 53 percent to 52,933 vehicles, making China its second-biggest market after the United States.

Nakashima said he hoped that fuel-efficient green luxury cars would account for a rising proportion of Lexus sales in China.

The company has promised to launch more models and make more of an effort to help Chinese drivers accept alternative-fuel vehicles.

The company launched its fourth hybrid model, the CT200h, in China on Wednesday. It's the world's first hybrid luxury compact.

"Since Lexus started to develop hybrid vehicles 20 years ago, our company has sold 3 million hybrids around the world," Nakashima said. "However, our hybrid sales in China are relatively low, without sufficient local government policy support or public awareness."

"We hope the new hybrid luxury compact CT200h, an entry model with low fuel consumption of 4.6 liters a kilometer and a competitive price of less than 300,000 yuan ($47,320), will help Chinese consumers, especially the younger generation, get access to new energy cars," Nakashima said.

The CT200h, which targets urban consumers aged 25 to 40, is expected to have monthly sales of 1,000 units, Nakashima said.

In the past three years, compacts became the fastest-growing segment in China's skyrocketing luxury car market.

The compact segment, which accounted for just 2 percent of the market in 2008, surged to 7.8 percent in the first half of the year. Luxury compact sales are expected to reach 60,000 units this year.

While most vehicle makers are developing electric and fuel cell vehicles in response to long-term energy and environmental challenges, analysts said that hybrid technology is one of the best short-term solutions.

Toyota Motor Corp said on Oct 22 that it will kick off the production of hybrid vehicles and key technologies in China in 2015.

Its Japanese rival, Honda Motor Co, also plans to produce hybrid cars in the world's biggest vehicle market in two to three years.

China Daily

(China Daily 10/27/2011 page15)