New Lexus Hybrid - for Europe and Japan
Lexus is actively developing an entry level hybrid vehicle for the European and Japanese markets. According to Steve Settle, the top man at Lexus in the United Kingdom and who spoke to Automotive News Europe, the car will be available only as a hybrid, will be larger than the current Lexus IS, but will be priced as the lowest cost Lexus.
Though cryptic, the comment is very revealing about current Toyota corporate strategy.
The indications are that Toyota is, at least in the near term – the next five years or so – committing itself to a hybrid vehicle strategy. It already has established a hybrid market in the United States with the Prius and it has recently been reported that Toyota will be introducing a second, larger line of hybrid cars. Lexus was the first luxury brand to introduce a hybrid, or mild hybrid, vehicle. The upcoming LF-A performance vehicle, pictured here in concept form, is also expected to be a hybrid.
Lexus has only recently has been introduced as brand in Japan. Though some Lexus models were previously sold in Japan, they were badged as Toyotas. That brand does not have the austerity image in Japan that it has in the United States. Only within the past year or so has Toyota attempted to establish Lexus as an separate brand in the home market, as part of its strategy to make Lexus an international luxury brand, competing with Mercedes-Benz and BMW in all markets.
That Toyota would chose to make the least expensive Lexus a hybrid-only vehicle in two of the markets in which it is most trying to expand the identity of the Lexus brand suggests that the company is committed to hybrid power plants over the long term.
The report does not suggest that the vehicle will be introduced in the United States. However, the bottom of the Lexus line in the States has always been a rebadged Toyota with more features and the Lexus nameplate.
Could this be the new Toyota hybrid, as well?