Lexus considers a smaller SUV below the new NX

Lexus to launch sub-NX SUV

Japanese company’s plans to downsize current model range could lead to a new sports-utility vehicle below the mid-sized NX

Lexus could launch an SUV smaller than the new NX as it looks to downsize its model range, the firm’s European vice president Alain Uyttenhoven has revealed.

Uyttenhoven said the launch of a small SUV was “not impossible” for Lexus and such a model “made sense” for the brand, but he stopped short of confirming it for production.

Lexus is looking to downsize and diversify its model range to reduce its reliance on the North American market, which accounts for around half of its 500,000-plus unit annual sales.

Uyttenhoven said tastes in European, Chinese and Japanese markets were likely to converge and lead to the development of smaller models, allowing Lexus the opportunity to broaden its product offering.

He noted that premium cars were getting ever smaller, and around 60 per cent of premium models sold in Europe were sold for less than 40,000 euros. “The premium market starts with a car as small as the Audi A1,” he said.

At the other end of the market, Uyttenhoven said he did not see a future for a four-cylinder engine in Lexus’s LS range-topper, with fuel-cell technology more likely to represent economy gains in this segment, possibly by 2020.

“As soon as fuel cells can be made for performance driving, you’ll see fuel cells in high-end cars,” he said.

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