PORTLAND, OR – Lexus first branched out of the U.S. in 1999 by retailing the IS midsize car in Europe. But it has been a slow slog toward appreciable volumes in that region and others.

While still recording the bulk of its sales in the U.S., a top brand official says demand in other markets finally is building.

“We basically had our last two years be all-time records for us, not only here but in nearly every market we operate in the world, so we’re getting good growth in…Europe, China (and) throughout the Asia/Pacific region,” Matthew Callachor, divisional general manager-Lexus planning division for Lexus International, tells WardsAuto here in an interview.

Lexus sold 582,000 units globally in 2014 and is targeting 10% growth this year, says a Lexus U.S. spokesman.

A half-a-million units in annual sales still is roughly a third of what Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz tally in a calendar year worldwide, but Lexus has made no bones about the hill it has to climb against the German luxury makes, which occupy the top three slots in global sales.

Alain Uyttenhoven, vice president-Lexus Europe, told Just Auto last year it was “impossible to catch the German Three, worldwide,” so Lexus was aiming to become the fourth-best-selling luxury brand globally, which it was in 2014.

Callachor echoes that sentiment and notes history is an impediment.

“We’ve been around 25 years vs. 50-something years for some of those other manufacturers,” he says of Lexus’ status as a relatively new kid on the premium block.

“But what we’ve really seen with Lexus over the last couple years is pretty much consistent, sustainable growth,” Callachor says.

Beneficial to Lexus has been the global trend toward CUVs, says Brian Bolain, Lexus U.S. vice president-marketing.

“It’s rare to see one segment on fire globally,” Bolain notes. “I don’t really remember that ever happening in my career before, where everyone around the world is clamoring for the same vehicle.”

The trend is especially noteworthy in Europe, where buyers are moving away from station wagons as the preferred family hauler.

The year-old NX compact CUV is especially captivating to Europeans. It’s already Lexus’ best-selling model in the region by a wide margin, tallying 13,192 deliveries in the year’s first half, Toyota Europe says.

No.2 best-selling for Lexus in Europe through June was the CT 200h hybrid hatchback, with 5,107 units sold.

Thanks to the NX, it looks like Lexus European sales may finally surpass 60,000 this year. It is targeting that number and 100,000 deliveries by 2020. It wanted to sell 65,000 in 2010.