Torrance, California-based Lexus, the luxury car offshoot of Toyota, sold 206,037 units for the year 2000, an all-time U.S. sales record. Sales were 10.8 percent up over 1999 in what Lexus officials described as “a very competitive and tight market”, and the brand ousted arch-rival Mercedes-Benz, by a mere 423 units, to became the USA’s top-selling luxury brand.

“Since our launch in 1989, the Lexus philosophy has been to engineer the highest quality vehicles, provide unparalleled customer service and link the two with an outstanding dealer network,” said Denny Clements, Lexus group vice president and general manager. “We remain committed to this ethic and although we didn’t set out to be No. 1 in sales, we’re thrilled to see our efforts propel us to the top spot in the luxury market.”

Lexus launched the LS 430 premium luxury sedan and the IS 300 compact sport sedan during 2000 and was rewarded by an increase in passenger car sales to 101,441, a 4.9 percent improvement over 1999.

SUV sales also remained strong with sales of 104,596 units, up 17.2 percent from 1999. The RX 300 remained the top-selling Lexus vehicle with 2000 sales of 89,864, an increase of 22.3% over 1999.

Lexus also posted its December ever in its 11-year history with sales of 21,168 units, a 30.5 percent increase over December 1999. December sales of the RX 300 set a monthly record of 9,248 units, a 22.8 percent increase over December 1999.

Lexus also claimed a record-setting year for sales of used cars with 48,157 units, an increase of 4.0 percent over 1999. Lexus pre-owned sales for December were also the best-ever for a month in the company’s history with 4,666 units sold, up 23 percent from the previous December.