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Lexus Has No Plans For Sub-$30K CLA Competitor

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On: Wed, Dec 18, 2013 at 1:57PM | By: Chris Weiss

Lexus Has No Plans For Sub-$30K CLA Competitor

The sub-$30K entry level segment has been a fertile planting ground for luxury car makers of late, sprouting such cars as the Mercedes-Benz CLA and Audi A3. Lexus has no plans on doing any planting, however, telling Auto News that it will leave that end of the market to the mainstream brands. 

"We will not head down below $30,000," Lexus chief Jeff Bracken told Auto News during an interview. "We have Toyota and Scion to handle that price level for us."

Mercedes has been riding the success of the CLA all year. It introduced the new model at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show in January, and the car's market launch in September boosted its sales. In fact, the car is expected to push Mercedes to take the US luxury sales crown away from BMW. Mercedes was up by about 5,000 units through October, and industry sources like Auto News and The Wall Street Journal expect it to finish the 2013 sales year ahead of BMW.

Of course, Daimler/Mercedes doesn't have a mainstream brand like Toyota, so an entry level car aimed at newer, younger consumers makes perfect sense. Besides the increased sales advantage, a smaller, less powerful car also helps the automaker in meeting CAFE standards, something that Lexus doesn't have to worry about, thanks to the diverse line-up of smaller, more fuel efficient cars in Toyota and Scion's stables.

Lexus also believes that it keeps a stronger luxury brand image by not dipping into the $20,000s.

On the downside, cheaper competitor models will make it difficult for Lexus to take back the U.S. sales title, which it held for 11 straight years before losing it to BMW in 2011. According to Auto News' projections, it is likely to finish the year more than 10 percent behind BMW and Mercedes.

The CLA-Class starts at $29,900 before the buyer takes on the $925 delivery charge. The cheapest Lexus is the CT 200h (pictured above), a hybrid hatchback that starts at $32,050 before a $910 delivery fee.

While Lexus seems confident in its decision, the story may be different at other Japanese luxury brands. Infiniti recently debuted the Q30 concept, a cross between a coupe, hatchback, and crossover, which it described as a compact vehicle targeting younger consumers. It has already said that the concept will inspire a compact car that would hit European production in 2015. That car could compete with the CLA-Class and/or GLA-Class, the latter of which is a small, entry level crossover Mercedes revealed in September. Infiniti's showing of the Q30 at last month's LA Auto Show suggests it plans to bring it to North America as well.


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