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Toyota Confirms US Launch of Compact Lexus Hybrid

Posted on March 16, 2010
Filed Under General News | 1 Comment

Toyota officials last week confirmed that the Lexus CT 200h, a premium hybrid hatchback, is coming to the United States, according to a report in Automotive News. The Lexus CT 200h would be Lexus’s first compact car, and the first compact hybrid sold by Toyota in the US.

The car was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show last week, but until recently the company insisted that the compact hybrid would only be sold in Europe. According to Automotive News, Lexus executives pleaded with Japan to bring to the car to the US—partly in hopes that the smaller Lexus would appeal to a younger demographic. “When the all-new Lexus CT 200h enters the market it will be the only hybrid vehicle in the emerging premium compact segment,” said Mark Templin, Lexus Division group vice president and general manager.

The Lexus CT 200h will make its US debut at the 2010 New York Auto Show later this month. Production begins in late 2010. The car could go on sale in the US sometime in 2011.

Small Luxury Compact Hybrid Hatchback

The recipe for the CT 200h is to place a Prius-type hybrid system—featuring a 1.8-liter gas engine with variable valve timing, and energy storage with a nickel-metal hydride battery pack—into small relatively affordable premium compact car. Lexus said the CT 200h will ride on a new front-wheel-drive platform with a MacPherson strut front suspension and double wishbones at the rear.

While fuel economy numbers have not been announced, the CT 200h’s small size and aerodynamics should push its mileage ahead of the 50-mpg 2010 Toyota Prius [1], currently the highest rated car for mpg. It could also mean a more sporty drive compared to the larger Prius. Lexus claims that the CT 200h “does not compromise interior roominess,” despite the compact package.

The CT 200h will be Lexus’s second dedicated hybrid, behind the mid-sized Lexus HS 250h [2]. The smaller CT 200h is likely to be offered with the same luxury appointments and high-tech features [3] found in the HS 250h and other Lexus vehicles.

Commitment to Luxury Hybrids

There are also rumors that the Toyota Auris Hybrid, a small hybrid hatchback built on the Scion xB platform, will head to the US. The Auris Hybrid promised more than 60 miles to the gallon. However, the US launch of the Auris Hybrid could be delayed in Europe, according to the Sunday Telegraph in the UK. Tadashi Arashima, the chief executive of Toyota Motor Europe, said the global recall of Toyota vehicles due to accelerator problems could change the planned timeline. “We are discussing that, if necessary, we will postpone the launch timing. For us there is the hybrid in late May, which is really key,” said Arashima. “We want to make sure that this car is properly launched without any major issues.”

SOURCE: Hybrid Cars

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