Lexus to skip plug-in hybrids and go straight to EVs, fuel cells

2018 Lexus LS 500h Executive Package (Lexus LS Hybrid)

2018 Lexus LS 500h Executive Package (Lexus LS Hybrid)

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Lexus won’t enter the business of selling plug-in hybrids, as it plans to move straight to battery-electric cars and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles. 

The comment came from Alain Uyttenhoven, head of Lexus Europe, who said plug-in hybrids are not necessary and a “loophole.” Lexus will execute its electric-drive strategy in 2020 with the first fuel-cell sedan based on the LF-FC, and another concept to come, according to Auto Express.

“We do not need to have plug-in hybrid vehicles. It’s a loophole in the market. We will reach the [CO2] targets without them.”

Lexus’ strategy will see electrification and fuel-cell technology branch out to high-end vehicles, like the LS and LC, before finding its way to more vehicles. Outfitting every single Lexus vehicle with a fuel-cell or battery-electric powertrain would not be cost-efficient, per Uyttenhoven.

He also believes luxury buyers looking at electric cars may be swayed by a smaller, premium electric car.

“A lot of people who have reached a certain level of wealth like to have a small premium car more than a bigger, more mainstream brand of car.”

On the fuel-cell front, Lexus may have tipped its hand. Earlier this year, Lexus moved to protect the “LS-FC CONCEPT” name, which will likely preview the fuel-cell-powered luxury sedan.

The date floated for the production car’s debut, 2020, holds additional importance. Tokyo, Japan, will host the Olympic games that year, which would provide Lexus with a global marketing stage. It will also be the year to complete Toyota’s goal of putting 30,000 fuel-cell vehicles on the road globally.

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