With sales of around 10,000 per year, the CT200h has not broken into the booming compact premium market in the way that Lexus had hoped, Uyttenhoven has admitted. That market segment is worth around 750,000 cars per year in Europe.
No further hints about the replacement for the CT200h were forthcoming, but the LF-SA concept shown at last year’s Geneva motor show was a hint at what the CT200h's replacement may look like when the current car reaches the end of its life within the next 24 months.
Despite achieving global sales of 652,000 units last year, Lexus has struggled to gain traction in the overall European premium market. Across 'wider Europe', the brand sold around 64,000 units last year. Uyttenhoven says Lexus hopes for more than 70,000 sales this year.
Uyttenhoven pointed out that "a full 50% of the European luxury car market exists below the €40,000 [£32,000] mark”. He added: “The only model we have in that segment is the CT200h.”
In the future, Lexus is hoping to capitalise on the move against diesel engines in city centres, with Uyttenhoven claiming that “300 European cities now have some law concerning access”. He also noted that petrol hybrid engines are especially low in NOx emissions.
Although it is associated with big saloon cars, Lexus is making progress in the global crossover market. It sold 150,000 units of the outgoing RX model last year and expects to hit 200,000 with the new RX this year. Additionally, 150,000 of the smaller NX model were sold during 2015, a figure that Uyttenhoven expects to rise to 160,000-170,000 units this year.
The upshot is that crossovers could account for half of Lexus’s global sales this year. “In Europe, we need to get annual Lexus sales above the 100,000 mark - something that would finally give us visibility in the market,” said Uyttenhoven. “You need to command 5% of the segment to become a real player.”