Lexus Explains Decision to Discontinue Diesel Engines


Lexus IS 300h in Australia

Australian website Car Advice has a statement from Lexus IS chief engineer Junichi Furuyama on why the IS diesel was discontinued in favor of the new IS 300h hybrid:

“In the beginning of [developing] this product, especially for Europe, the CO2 regulations become severe and severe… so we carefully investigated which direction – diesel or hybrid – had potential for the future. Not so right now but in the future,” Junichi Furuyama told CarAdvice.

“Yes, yes [in about 10 to 20 years]. Of course we can engineer a new diesel engine. But we don’t have suitable unit so [we would] have to build new one. We investigated many cases, but conclusion was that hybrid was solution to future severe regulations.

The new Lexus IS hybrid squeezes under the magic 100g/km CO2 barrier in the UK, with its 99g/km figure helping Britons save hundreds of pounds in company car tax.

Furuyama-san also acknowledges the criticism that the four-cylinder hybrid has been receiving (see the reviews from Auto Express & Which Car?):

“The issue is max performance if compared to diesels such as [BMW] 320d – is little bit worse than competitors’ engines, and in Europe there are many criticisms for this IS300h for max power and torque. Diesel has more punch in drive feeling.

“So it is a compromise between consumption/emissions and performance. So we carefully watch the reaction in Europe and also Australia to the hybrid to see if we can compete with diesel competitors or not.”

By becoming a hybrid-only brand, Lexus can now position itself as the main alternative to the German luxury diesels. However, it also sacrifices a potential short-term sales gain in hopes that the brand will be the default choice for hybrid technology in the future.

A bold play by Lexus, and the very definition of a long bet — only time will tell if it was the correct move.

Read the full Furuyama-san Interview on Car Advice

Comments


  • Yong Thian Ding

    Bring 2.0-liter Turbo or 1.6-liter Turbo onto Hybrid & you will play the game .

  • MT

    Maybe name it the IS180h the next time?
    By giving it the 300 designation everyone compares it to the BMW 330d. And that one virtually destroys it in terms of performance.

  • Justin

    This seems to be an incredibly defeatist position for Furuyama to take. “So we carefully watch the reaction in Europe and also Australia to the hybrid to see if we can compete with diesel competitors or not.”

    I’m sorry but Lexus HAS to compete with the 320d, now and well into the future, to survive in this market. BMW engineers have the upper hand, with diesel technology that can almost match hybrid CO2 emissions before adding any hybridisation.

    And let’s be clear here – it isn’t the engine that most auto journalists have a beef about, it’s the poorly configured CVT transmission that makes the engine sound like a sewing machine gone mad when you aren’t even going very fast.

    I hope Lexus are working on a CVT update as we speak. But the company’s record on model upgrades is poor, so I don’t hold out much hope. For the record, BMW, Audi and MB are continuously upgrading their models’ technology. They don’t just “launch and sit back” like Lexus has done with the distinctly mediocre CT.

  • Lokomotor

    It is actually the diesels which are reaching the limits of their efficiencies. With the new stricter Euro 6 and Euro 7 restrictions on the hydrocarbons and Nitrous Oxide emitted on diesels, newer future diesels are going to be less efficient and make less power/torque for the same fuel consumption. Lexus the smartly outmanouevred the Germans by taking the long view since battery technology and efficiencies is just beginning to take off while diesel tech is fully matured and has little wiggle room for improvement : before long hybrid will overtake Diesel in both efficiency and emissions under Euro 6/7.

    The IS300h just sounded the beginning of the end for diesel as a monopoly for engine tech in Europe.

  • Levi

    That what I like about the Japanese corporate culture, they are long-term oriented compared to EU and US which are short-term oriented. Good move Lexus.