Toyota luxury brand Lexus estimates sales of around 30,000 units in Europe this year – in line with its forecasts.

The automaker had posted an increase of 15% to 15,200 for the first six months of 2009 – compared with a 13% fall in Toyota H1 numbers – but its Lexus division is optimistic.

“It's more or less our original plan,” Toyota Motor Europe president Didier Leroy told just-auto in Paris. “There are two main reasons for these very successful sales – the RX and specifically the 450RX hybrid thanks to the large increase in the Russian market.

“Russia has been coming back for the past four to five months for Lexus and Toyota – there is a new take-off for the Russian economy and a direct impact on Lexus.”

Leroy also said Lexus was better able to compete with the established German giants in Russia and that the brand's strong image was aided by its developed network in the country.

“We are not a mass volume producer and we can't expect to compete with the same volume as Mercedes,” said Leroy.

“We don't want to fight directly face-to-face within a European operation [but] for the Russian customer it [Lexus] is one of the key competitors for German carmakers, which is not what we are doing in some other countries.”