Remember when the Lexus LS 600h was on the way, and there was head-scratching aplenty about the $100K+ price and the delay? At the time, Lexus said it only planned to sell 2,000 of the hybrid cruisers per year, and that they already had orders for 1,650 of them. Then the car came out, and in spite of being treated rather unkindly by the motoring press and boasting a less-than-stellar MPG improvement, it has sold 6,093 worldwide through October. The car only went on sale in July.
Lexus calls the car the "progressive person's alternative." The New York Times called the car the "new standard for automotive hyperbole." After only a few months of sales, it is far too early to call -- but it would be interesting to see if Lexus has done the same thing with the LS that Toyota did with the Prius: no matter what you might think of it, it allows people to make a statement.
While Mercedes and Audi are busy working on... something, and hydrogen BMWs shuttle celebs hither, Lexus has a car on lots that lets luxury buyers make the claim, "I care." (Remember, this isn't about what you think of the statement, so keep the comments civil.) Whichever one the buyers are going for -- progressive, hyperbole, statement, or something else -- it appears to be working.