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Hybrids set to dominate Lexus ES sales

Electrifying: The Lexus ES300h is expected to account for almost two out of every three ES sales in the new model that arrives in early November.

60 per cent of Lexus ES buyers set to opt for fuel-saving hybrid technology

9 Oct 2013

LEXUS Australia expects up to 60 per cent of customers for its new-generation ES luxury sedan to opt for the petrol-electric hybrid powertrain over the optional V6.

This is double the current rate of 30 per cent for its overall range that now counts six hybrid models, including the new ES300h.

The company says its high expectations for the ES hybrid models is partly because the 151kW hybrid powertrain, with its 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine and electric motor driving the ES's front wheels via a CVT transmission, will be cheaper than the equivalent 3.5-litre V6 variants.

It also believes ES customers will be be more accepting of the hybrid technology than buyers of more driver-oriented Lexus large and medium cars such as the rear-drive GS and IS.

Rather than diesel like its mainly European competitors, Lexus has adopted the cleaner petrol-electric hybrid system as its signature technology, and has watched hybrid powertrains gain an increasing share of its sales over the past four years.

Its top-selling RX SUV has gone from eight per cent hybrid four years ago to 35 per cent now.

The Lexus goal is to sell at least half of its cars with hybrid technology, and it says new products such as the front-drive mid-range ES will make a major contribution to that.

ES hybrids kick off the ES range at $63,000 (plus on-road costs) for the ES300h, $2000 cheaper than the V6 ES350.

Lexus Australia chief executive Sean Hanley said hybrid sales in the newly introduced IS range had yet to reach their full potential because of stock shortages of the IS300h.

He said that as production flows increase, he expects the hybrid share of IS sales to increase beyond the current 20 per cent or so.

Mr Hanley said hybrid GS sales were also expected to grow next year with the arrival of the more affordable GS300h, which uses the same hybrid powertrain as the IS300h, in February.

This will bring the GS hybrid range to two, with the four-cylinder GS300h joining the V6-based GS450h.

The smallest hybrid in the Lexus line-up, the CT200h, is also set to get a rev up next year with a half-model facelift and changes to the product line-up to help the hatchback reach its potential.

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