The last time we drove one of Lexus' new HS 250h hybrid sedans, we found the experience to be about what you might expect. That is to say, eminently usable and well-designed with reasonable driving dynamics. We liked it, though we pointed out that the styling is pretty bland and performance is merely adequate.
We can't say for certain whether that staid styling or its lack of driving emotion may be holding it back in the marketplace, but Wards Auto reports that the HS 250h is failing to live up to the sales volume projections set out by Lexus when the car was introduced late last year. Since initially going on sale last August, Lexus has sold 11,228 HS hybrids. Last month, Toyota's luxury division moved just 1,076 units, which makes for a grand total of 4,529 since 2010 kicked off five months ago.
A quick calculation tells us that full-year sales, assuming they remain at something resembling a steady pace, will be under 14,000 units. Lexus had previously set a target of 20,000-22,000 HS 250h sales in America – and even that figure represented a lowered expectation from the 25,000-30,000 sales initially quoted before Japanese consumers started ordering the model up at a faster-than-expected rate. Why the below-par sales stats? Mark Templin, vice president of Toyota's Lexus division, says:
I think we underestimated the power of the Prius brand... And we overestimated what the market would look like based on gas prices. But if we can do over 1,000 units a month, 1,000-1,500 units a month, we feel really good about what we're doing in the marketplace.