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Surge in 2014 Lexus IS sports sedan sales defies critics

The new Lexus IS 250 and IS 350 have burst out of the gate. Sales have more than doubled and the model is stealing share from BMW, Audi, and Acura.

A few years ago Lexus committed to making the 2014 Lexus IS 250 and IS 350 much more exciting. Both more exciting than the existing generation of IS sports sedans, and also more exciting than what the competition was offering. The new exterior design was its boldest yet, and many critics, used to seeing the conservative BMW 3 Series as the benchmark for looks in the segment, said it would not succeed. Some, like Motortrend, even called the new Lexus IS 350 “ugly.” Sales results are in and the Lexus designers have been rewarded with an overwhelmingly positive customer reaction.

The IS has been on the market now for almost three full months. During that span, sales have more than doubled. Certainly the robust US market has had some impact on the great sales results, but the overall car market is “only” up about 15% over last year. In September Lexus IS 250 and IS 350 sales leapt by nearly 70%. According to Lexus, this is the second consecutive month that the company is having trouble meeting the demand for the IS.

Lexus Stealing BMW Buyers

If anyone is to be blamed for the tight availability right now for the 2014 Lexus IS 250 and IS 350 it isn’t historical Lexus customers. According to Lexus, its market data shows that the dramatic increase in sales is being fueled by customers coming from BMW, Audi, and Acura. Lexus reports that more than half of all new 2014 IS 250 and IS 350 sports sedan buyers are new to Lexus. Infiniti can also be thanked. The new Q50 sedan is a wonderful car and certainly made large advances in the state of the art, however, by super-sizing its G37, and by making its replacement (the Q50) more of a luxury car than sports sedan, Infiniti has effectively abandoned the compact sports sedan market and moved the Q50 up to where the Cadillac CTS and Lexus GS 350 play.

Lexus Buyers Younger
The median age of the 2014 Lexus IS is dropping. Buying median age is now in the mid-40s and fully a third of IS 250 and IS 2350 buyers are now under 35 years of age. This is amazing given the cost of the vehicle. Those buyers are also more male than in previous sales years with 56% of buyers being men. The practical IS 250 AWD had always been the volume car in this model, but the F-Sport versions are now wildly popular with 40% of IS sports sedans now being bought as pure sports sedans as opposed to more mellow sports/luxury models. In the past only about 10% of IS vehicles were sold as F-Sport versions.

The new 2014 IS from Lexus is bringing in new customers from BMW, Audi, and Acura, who are trending more male, younger, and buying the most expensive versions of the model pushing sales up to more than double historic highs. If there is an objective that Lexus set out to achieve with the new 2014 IS that it has not accomplished it is hard to name. With November and December being historically strong sales months for Lexus it is likely that the new IS 250 and IS 350 will help Lexus finish the year with a result that could only have been dreamed of by the car’s planners.