Toyota Motor Corp’s Lexus luxury unit will introduce a new model in China, the world’s largest auto market for the second straight year, signaling the division’s growing ambitions for the crucial market.
The refreshed ES sedan is being premiered in Shanghai this month and the world’s largest carmaker hints that its retuned strategy will focus more on the Chinese market – where Toyota has been riding stormy waters in recent years – also because of the continued political tensions between Beijing and Tokyo. Selecting China for successive global introductions (the NX compact crossover was showcased in 2014 in Beijing) is a testament to the automaker’s growing worldwide ambitions for the premium marquee, which still has most of its sales riding on just one market – the United States. With the North American market being the world’s largest in terms of luxury auto sales, Lexus only delivered around 76,000 units – less than 25 percent of US sales.
During the Shanghai auto show, Lexus will reveal the ES model – which means two of the brand’s top-selling nameplates have been refreshed in a swift move, after the RX crossover was showcased in its fourth generation during the New York International Auto Show. The RX is the automaker’s best-selling SUV and ES the top selling sedan in the United States. In China, the Japanese brand also lost touch with the top-grossing German automakers – Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, which rule the local market in that order. One of the reasons is Toyota’s decision not to locally build Lexus cars in China, with the brand’s imports having to also account for a 25 percent duty.