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Lexus faces SUV supply issue

Lexus has confirmed a worldwide shortage of its key SUVs, the NX, RX and LX (NX pictured).

Lexus Australia says a worldwide shortage of its key SUVs from the factory has hobbled sales of its strongest performers.

The small NX, medium RX and large LX high-riding wagons make up more than 50 per cent of the brand's current sales volume, which Lexus Australia managing director Peter McGregor will crack 9000 sales for the year for the first time.

McGregor told journalists at the recent IS facelift launch in Melbourne that the sales figures could have been even higher if the company was able to get more cars from Japan.

"We have been restricted all year (2016) on all three SUVs," he said. "The sales performance does not reflect free supply in any of those models."

McGregor said the shortfall reflects overall market trends of higher demand for SUVs putting pressure on manufacturing capacity.

"We have discussed with our parent what the level of demand would be for the next 12 months, and we are in negotiations at the moment to achieve a level of supply to satisfy that demand," he said.

A fix isn't available in the short term.

"We would only ever want to bring this into balance, anyway. We don't want to oversupply the market. We just want to bring it into balance, and we think at the moment that the market can actually tolerate some enhanced supply."

The lack of supply has not drastically affected the overall position of the company in terms of yearly sales.

"I don't think we're talking 20 per cent or 30 per cent (more sales)," he said. "We weren't supplied by half or anything like that. There would be a reasonable increase, but you wouldn't have seen the volume go from 9000 to 18,000 (total sales for Lexus Australia)."

Worryingly, a fix isn't available in the short term, according to McGregor.

"I think we'll be able to close out (new supply deals) in the next couple of years, but it really will depend on worldwide trends," he said. "If you look at the US and even Europe, the trend to SUVs is very strong.

"Our parent company will seek to satisfy our demand, and they'll do their best, but whether they can actually satisfy worldwide demand or not is something I can't answer.

"If they can't, then we'll have to bear our share of the restrictions like everybody else."

Car companies are required to set production levels for vehicles sometimes up to five years ahead of time; it's not simply a matter of opening the taps to build more cars, as supply lines are already set, and production lines often also carry more than one type of vehicle at a time.

It will be something that Lexus planners are hoping they get right with the incoming UX compact SUV, which is set to be a hot seller for the Japanese prestige brand.

The RX and NX are built at Toyota's Miyata plant in Japan, while the Toyota LandCruiser-based LX comes from Toyota City's Sanage plant.

Will you be willing to join a waiting list for a Lexus SUV? Tell us what you think in the comments below.