Lexus' iconic red-bow sales program, December to Remember, begins earlier this year, with financing and lease specials available now on various 2011 and 2012 models.
Everyone is used to seeing winter holiday decorations hit department stores earlier each year, but the fact that the sale is named after the month of December and will run through all of November is a bit humorous to us, but likely not to the company.
Inventory recoveries after Japan's earthquake disruptions have prompted the brand to move the program ahead of its usual Thanksgiving kickoff, Lexus chief Mark Templin told reporters yesterday. This year's December to Remember began Tuesday and ends Jan. 3.
Specials vary by region. We contacted Lexus dealers in greater New York, Atlanta, Chicago and Los Angeles. Here's what we learned:
- High-credit buyers can get 1.9% financing on certain 2011 sedans, depending on the market, including the IS 250/350, ES 350 and GS 350. One dealership offered this rate last month, but others bottomed out at 2.9%. Financing terms last up to 60 months.
- High-credit buyers can get 0.9% to 1.9% financing on certain 2012 models, depending on the market. Among the models are the ES 350 and IS 250/350 sedans, the RX 350 crossover and the CT 200h hybrid. This improves on last month's rates for the 2012s, which two dealerships quoted at 2.9%. One had no financing discounts at all. Terms last up to 60 months. How much does that save? If you financed $30,000 for 60 months at 2.9%, you'd pay $537.72 a month. At 0.9%, you're down to $511.52. Or $1,572 over the life of the loan.
- The program will also have various lease specials on the cars above, in some cases as low as $309 a month, for the IS 250 and CT 200h.
Lexus spokesman Bill Kwong said marketing for the program would launch Nov. 18, but we're letting you in on it now.
Lexus needs as much traction as it can get. Sales were down 14.2% for October compared with a year ago, and sales remain off 16.2 percent for the year.
And while inventories are low, they are rebounding. As of Oct. 1, the brand had just 29 days' supply — a reflection of how long it would take dealers to sell their current cars at a normal selling rate. However, the supply is up from 25 days in September. Among major luxury brands, only Audi (27 days) has fewer cars on hand with the average rate for the major luxury brands at 47 days. A year ago, Lexus dealers had 47 days' supply as well.
Parent brand Toyota's Toyotathon event won't start until its usual Thanksgiving week time frame, a Toyota spokeswoman said. Like the Lexus sale, it varies by dealership and ends Jan. 3.