The new Lexus RX300 luxury SUV, due for launch in May, may have a higher top speed than its predecessor but it looks certain to be even slower to depreciate. The car has been set an unusually high three-year residual value of 50% by leading vehicle-financing and fleet-solutions provider ALD Automotive.
"This is a sector-leading car, offering improved levels of driveability and safety," says ALD's Procurement Manager Peter Rossiter. "It will be a very sought-after used vehicle at the end of contract - as is the current model. Lexus dealers are actually snapping up any used examples now. There's a shortage in the marketplace because this is a niche rather than a volume product, and that will help the car retain its value.
"The RX is a superb product but a figure as high as 50% is quite uncommon in the SUV sector," said Mr Rossiter of the 60,000 mile/three year residual. "It will be more of a retail than a corporate prospect and in terms of our fleet mix we're happy as long as there's a market at the end of contract. Certainly the desirability factor on the RX is pretty good, and that's good news as far as risk management is concerned."
Bristol-based ALD Automotive provides contract hire and purchase, pan-European leasing and a range of financial products and support services to customers ranging from bluechip fleets such as Safeway Stores, ALSTOM and Lucent Technologies to small businesses.
The valuation was welcomed by Lexus's National Corporate Sales Manager Andy Simpson. "I'm delighted, because I believe this is the first time a petrol-driven SUV has achieved a 50% residual, and that's a major statement of faith in the brand," he said.
"What's more, the existing RX300 is already being moved up by CAP to 42% in March, which is a strong basis for the launch of the new car. All the old models have been sold three months before the new one arrives, and this is a deliberate policy designed to create a launch platform and order bank for the new car." The run-out strategy has already paid off - by the end of March, 250 of the new RX300s were already on order.
The reshaped Lexus RX300 features advanced aerodynamic styling but with a more spacious interior than its predecessor and most rivals. The new chassis supports a more powerful 3.0 litre V6 engine that offers improved fuel economy and complies with EURO IV emission regulations. This is coupled with a new five-speed automatic transmission and a drivetrain that uses Traction Control for more precise control and refinement.
Safety features include new-design side airbags and driver's knee airbag as standard, enlarged brake discs and the use of Brake Assist and fast-response LED tail lights. Vehicle Stability Control is fitted to correct oversteer or understeer before it occurs.
Other innovations include the Adaptive Front-lighting System, available for the first time in a SUV to control the optimum swivel of the lights automatically. The RX300 also has a power-operated rear tailgate and height-adjustable four-wheel air suspension to provide greater ride control above 60mph.
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