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November 17, 2005

EXCLUSIVE: ITALY/UK: Lexus sees IS diesel model propelling its UK fleet sales

Lexus believes that its new diesel-engined LS model will boost its sales in the UK, particularly in the company car market. The UK market is Lexus’ biggest in the EU.

Lexus believes that its new diesel-engined LS model will boost its sales in the UK, particularly in the company car market. The UK market is Lexus’ biggest in the EU.

Lexus GB says that it has 1,300 advance orders for the new IS and sales expectations in the UK are for 7,400 units of the model in 2006, of which the diesel IS 220d is expected to account for around 5,000 units.

The company says that IS sales expectations for the UK in 2007 are for 8,500 units with the diesel variant accounting for some 6,000 units.

Some 50% of new IS sales in Britain are expected by Lexus to be in the corporate sector of the market where diesel dominates. The 2.2-litre diesel engine in the IS 220d makes it the first Lexus to get a diesel engine.

Around 70% of IS first year sales in the UK are expected by Lexus to be new Lexus owners – either conquest sales from other premium brands or buyers moving into the premium sector for the first time.

Lexus believes that sales prospects for the new vehicle will be enhanced by ‘best in class’ insurance ratings and low ownership costs.

The company claims a significant advantage over its rivals on the costs of replacement parts, which has brought its insurance group ratings down. Lexus says that the combined cost of front-end elements, including bonnet, grille, bumper cover, wing, headlamp, radiator, front panel and air-con condenser for the Audi A4 is almost 26% greater than for the Lexus IS.

Similarly, Lexus maintains that rear bumper cover for the IS costs approximately £124 compared to £311 on the BMW 3 Series, while a Jaguar X-Type bootlid costs £280, more than twice that of the Lexus IS.

According to new registrations data published by the SMMT, Lexus sold 8,163 units in Britain during the first ten months of this year, some 9.4% down on the same period of last year. In 2004, Lexus sales in Britain reached just over 10,000 units. 

The diesel fuelled common rail direct injection 2.2-litre IS 220d goes on sale in the UK in January 2006 and starts at £22,200. The 204 bhp 2.5-litre V6 direct injection petrol engined IS 250 is on sale in Britain from November 19 and starts at £22,400.

Dave Leggett

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