2013 Lexus RX 450h
The cover story for the transition of Lexus ES production from Kyushu, Japan, to Toyota's American flagship Georgetown, Kentucky, plant starting in 2015, was the high value of the yen, which makes exports more expensive, combined with the ES' high sales volume in the U.S., making it a rational choice to bring production stateside.
But details are beginning to emerge about a second reason behind the move. Lexus is reportedly preparing an SUV model smaller than the current RX, and moving ES production to Kentucky frees up production capacity at the Kyushu plant of 50,000 units a year or more, according to The Detroit Bureau.
Jim Lentz, Toyota's North American CEO, implied that there could be some strategic paring of Lexus' future product lineup, in a transition to building products more appealing to younger buyers and customers in emerging markets, where the Lexus brand is relatively new. Future products are expected to have an increased focus on fuel efficiency and technology, away from the traditional luxury attributes of size and horsepower.
Lexus' U.S. model lineup currently consists of eight distinctive body styles, not including variants such as hybrids and convertibles. Lentz said Lexus wouldn't necessarily try to match other luxury brands model-for-model, saying "we can't be everything to everybody."
Source: The Detroit Bureau