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Lexus IS withdrawn from Europe
Lexus has revealed production of European-spec IS models has stopped, due to tightening crash safety legislation which comes into force at the end of the year.
The firm has chosen not to make the necessary modifications to the front end of the current-shape IS, which competes with the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4, as an all-new one is due in spring 2013.
Cars remaining in the dealer network are thus on runout – once they’re sold, there will be no more, leaving Lexus with a significant gap in its range until the new IS arrives next year.
The IS used to be Lexus’ best selling model in the UK, with around 8,500 units sold in the firm’s peak year, 2007. This has dwindled in recent years as the competition has improved.
Its departure thus leaves a significant sale gap in the Lexus range and makes the launch of the new IS even more important.
Lexus sales have struggled in recent years: from selling 15,000 cars in 2007, sales rapidly declined to 10,000 the following year, and just 6,200 cars in 2010. The arrival of the CT has helped boost sales a little, to 8,200 cars last year, but the firm is desperate for a competitive model in the junior executive sector to really give it the impetus it needs.
The current IS has been on sale since 2005 and lags way behind the competition in terms of competitiveness. It also has high CO2 emissions: even the greenest petrol emits a massive 194g/km and averages just 33.6mpg.
The IS 220d has long since departed, again due to emissions regulations – and the IS is also, significantly the only Lexus not to offer a hybrid drivetrain, despite Lexus’ expertise in this area.
Expect the new model to rectify this omission, perhaps with a production version of the 2.5-litre four-cylinder hybrid drivetrain we saw in Lexus’ beautiful Paris Motor Show concept, the LF-CC.
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