Luxury-carmakers will be taking various tacks for 1991 to battle the new luxury car and fuel taxes as well as a weakened economy.

Toyota's Lexus division said value will be the key to luxury car sales during the 1990s, as buyers move away from what it called the "conspicuous consumption" of the 1980s, while German carmaker BMW stressed safety at its preview."People are still willing to pay for quality, but fewer are willing to pay a higher price for status alone," said J. Davis Illingworth, Lexus' group vice president and general manager.

Lexus sold 63,534 cars during 1990, its first full year of operation. That was in line with projections made one year ago, Illingworth said.

But while sales are expected to improve for 1991 despite a poor economy and a 10 percent luxury tax on cars costing over $30,000, Illingworth declined to make a specific projection.

Lexus cars currently range from $21,300 for the ES 250 sedan, to about $40,000 for its V8-powered LS 400 sedan. Their prime competitors are European luxury cars like BMW and Mercedes, as well as domestic names such as Cadillac and Lincoln.

"Luxury isn't a dirty word, it's still high on the list of purchase reasons," Illingworth said.

While Lexus is stressing value for the money - especially against highbrow European marques that can cost several thousand dollars more, German carmaker BMW is putting the accent on safety.

With the introduction of its completely redesigned small 3-series car line this May, BMW said it will meet all future U.S. safety standards, including the federal government's new side impact standard to take effect for the 1994-model year.