Jeff Bracken, Lexus' US group vice president and general manager, knows his company lost its position as America's biggest luxury brand back in 2011, and it's a mantle that his employer probably won't be getting back any time soon. That's because Lexus is electing not to follow the luxury segment's downmarket trend any more than its $32,500 CT 200h hybrid hatchback. "Since we won't be going down below $30,000, it will be very difficult for us to ever regain luxury leadership," Bracken admitted on Autoline After Hours late last week.

Rivals Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi all have new low-end entries on sale or in the wings to entice new buyers and fortify their CAFE scores, but Lexus has Toyota and Scion to capture sales underneath its lineup. Instead, Bracken hints that Lexus is going upmarket and higher-performance, fueling ongoing rumors of a LFA successor, or perhaps a new offering based on the lauded 2012 LF-LC coupe concept shown above, a production version of which could also slot in where the unloved SC convertible left off. "We need to begin bringing to market luxury performance... higher performance vehicles. IS-F certainly was the beginning of that, maybe on the lower end," says Bracken.

Later in the online video interview show, Bracken gets even more candid:

We've revealed the LF-CC now as an RC, right? Do you like the styling? So we feel the same way, and that would be a great example of Akio's thumbprint on where he's trying to take the company as it relates to beautiful styling. IS, RC, and hopefully these concepts you've become familiar with will ultimately make it to production."

The "Akio" in the quote above is, of course, CEO Akio Toyoda, who has made injecting emotion into the way his family's companies vehicles drive and look a top priority.

To that same end, earlier today, Lexus announced plans to reveal an unnamed new F-branded performance model at next month's Detroit Auto Show, but it isn't going exclusively top-shelf with future products – a compact crossover based on the LF-NX showcar is expected to slot in underneath its hugely successful RX CUV, bringing along with it a new turbocharged four-cylinder (an engine also expected shortly in the new IS sedan).

Lexus has not diversified its alternative fuel powertrains as much as its key rivals, most of which now offer both diesel and hybrid variants in at least one or two key models. On this subject, Bracken remains pessimistic, saying, "We have elected at this point not to head down the diesel path," while also saying that Lexus has no near-term plans for a plug-in model, nor any firm plans for a bi-fuel compressed natural gas offering.

For more of Bracken's musings on Lexus' future, scroll down to watch the Autoline After Hours episode video below.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 46 Comments
      Zaki
      • 1 Year Ago
      Lexus is finally headed in the right direction. It needs to have exclusive, powerful, good looking cars to compete with BMW and Mercedes.
      john96xlt
      • 1 Year Ago
      Why, exactly, would Lexus move "down market" in the first place? They have upper crust Toyotas to fill that role, Mercedes and BMW do not.
        chanonissan
        • 1 Year Ago
        @john96xlt
        because there is a demand
          john96xlt
          • 1 Year Ago
          @chanonissan
          And that demand is being met with high-end Toyotas like Avalon.
          chanonissan
          • 1 Year Ago
          @chanonissan
          http://www.autoblog.com/2013/10/02/mercedes-benz-cla-strong-sales/ are you saying this does not justified that there is a demand?
        JustinJQ
        • 1 Year Ago
        @john96xlt
        So do Audi and Acura, but that didn't stop them.
          john96xlt
          • 1 Year Ago
          @JustinJQ
          Acura has always had small cars based on Honda's Civic. Some of their best and highly respected cars are of this nature.
      bK
      • 1 Year Ago
      Looks great, a true Soarer/SC300/400 successor!
      Eggmania
      • 1 Year Ago
      this is probably the most stunning car i have ever seen. bravo lexus.
      Winnie Jenkems
      • 1 Year Ago
      Lexus has really gone off the deep end with the styling. This thing looks ridiculous. Back to the drawing board, guys.
      Marcopolo
      • 1 Year Ago
      A brilliant design, following on from the earlier limited release models. Toyota is successfully doing with Lexus, what GM should be doing with Cadillac. By driving the Lexus brand upmarket, Lexus will remain a prestige marque. The Lexus division is already very profitable, and obviously Toyota judges the time's right to drop out the lesser models from the transitional period Lexus has been given more autonomy, and remains committed with advanced hybrid technology, instead of trying to develop a range of technologies, whose sales wouldn't contribute to the divisions profits. Toyota has never been attracted to diesel powered passenger cars, but with it's link to Tesla, and investment in FCV's, Toyota is hedging it's bets as to the evolutionary outcome, before committing to a replacement technology for it's hugely successful hybrid range.
      Window Tint Orlando
      • 1 Year Ago
      I think that question deserves a long answer. Even though the two companies are related they are different divisions, and each division has is required to hit metrics and fill a market void. The consumer who is willing to go after a Lexus, BMW or Mercedes would not take a look at Toyotas. My site have a few more articles about this: http://www.sunshinetinting.com/window-tinting-tampa
        john96xlt
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Window Tint Orlando
        That theoretical snob/customer wouldn't be caught dead in a CLA, either, knowing it will forever be known as "the cheap Mercedes".
          chanonissan
          • 1 Year Ago
          @john96xlt
          customer would not be caught dead in a CLA, will explain your self, because to me, it means no one will buy a cheap CLA.
          chanonissan
          • 1 Year Ago
          @john96xlt
          have you seen the sales report, otherwise you statement have no leg to stand on. The CLA have very strong sales http://www.autoblog.com/2013/10/02/mercedes-benz-cla-strong-sales/
          john96xlt
          • 1 Year Ago
          @john96xlt
          I said nothing about the CLA not selling well, did I?
      Zoom
      • 1 Year Ago
      I think Lexus is missing a big opportunity that BMW is going to take with the i-brand and TESLA. Lexus would be well-positioned to offer the next generation hybrid technology perfected and luxury oriented. If they don't, BMW and TESLA are going to eat them alive. I believe Lexus/Toyota, if they put their minds to it, could release a 100mpg plug-in luxury car and have it be a hit.
        Eta Carinae
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Zoom
        I think you don't see what the LF-LC is.......it Will have a hybrid drivetrain and will most likely compete with the BMW i8 on all levels and them some.....I'm no lexus fan but they have clearly pot in terms of refinement and design lately......and the production will most likely be true to form....
        imoore
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Zoom
        Zoom, Tesla's aligned with Mercedes and Toyota, and could possibly be working up something with both brands. BMW should be the one who's worried.
      Db
      • 1 Year Ago
      Not a fan of Lexus at all, but that is one sexy concept!!!
      nagmashot
      • 1 Year Ago
      What about Lexus down move with the CT with its inline 4... already fogotten? ... like all Lexus vehicles get forgotten after only 2 years...
      Radioactive Flea
      • 1 Year Ago
      That's car talk for "we can't compete in the crowded 35k to 70k market." So, we will make less cars, but more expensive.
      Max Bramante
      • 1 Year Ago
      The Audi A1 has been a big fiasco in Europe so they made the best choice.
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