The November sales for Lexus USA have been reported today, and at least the numbers are better than last month’s drop:
As is my tendency, I’m searching for the bright side of things, and the LX 570 shines like a strange, improbable beacon. Two points off of 500% growth while everything else is at last 30% off? That’s practically amazing. Still, I can’t help but notice the ugly 67.3% drop in GS sales under last year, which is particularly worrying considering that the redesign is probably two years away.
(I did just think of a positive, at least the numbers next year won’t look so bad.)
Since starting this website, I’ve been asked numerous times about the overall benefits of Lexus hybrid technology, so I thought it would be a good idea to put together a basic primer.
First off, here’s a direct-from-Lexus video explanation on how a hybrid engine works:
Now, everyone knows the primary advantage that (most) hybrids have over conventional gas engines is better miles-per-gallon performance, but that’s just one of the benefits to this progressive technology:
Environmental – All Lexus hybrids carry the Super Ultra-Low Emission Vehicle (SULEV II) certification, meaning they release approximately 76 percent fewer emissions compared to their gasoline counterparts.
Ride Quality – The electronically controlled continuously variable transmission (CVT) that Lexus employs creates exceptionally smooth shifts between electric and gasoline power, most occupants are usually unaware the change has occurred.
Noise Reduction – Hybrids are quieter than their gasoline burning counterparts, and Lexus engineers took it even further by moving the engine mounts upward in their hybrids and completely re-conceptualized the air intake system. Those changes, in addition to all the sound-dampening insulation, make Lexus hybrids virtually silent.
Long Battery Life – Improvements in battery technology are central to the continued evolution of hybrids. Lexus uses nickel-metal hydride batteries rated to last 100,000 miles. This choice, paired with regenerative braking, gives Lexus hybrids longer battery life on the road over the competition.
Superior Horsepower – An early complaint about hybrids was the lack of the “get up and go” of conventional cars. Lexus solved this problem by synchronizing the operation of their electric and gasoline motors, which turns the weakness into a strength. The combined performance of the two engines gives a V6 the acceleration power of a V8 and a V8 the power of a V12.
Manufacturing Waste Reduction – Lexus didn’t just focus on the engine when building their hybrids, these vehicles are lighter and more economical in terms of raw materials required. Sustainable natural materials, like kenaf, are employed, as are soy-oil-based polyurethane and water-based paints on the undercoatings to reduce Volatile Organic Compound emissions. Also, the use of left-over construction materials as sound insulation allows Lexus manufacturing sites to recycle 98 percent of their manufacturing waste.
There are even some unexpected benefits, such as insurance companies granting discounts to hybrid drivers, and a reduction in congestion tax charges. These fees can add up, which can help offset the additional cost of the purchase.
Most importantly, hybrid technology is improving, and it will only get better with every new implementation. In fact, it’s only a matter of time before every Lexus is powered by the dual-powerplant.
The Lexus IS-F finally made its Top Gear appearance this weekend, competing against the BMW M3:
Also part of the episode was the Stig pushing the IS-F around the Top Gear track:
The results were a forgone conclusion, I can’t imagine anyone’s all that surprised that Jeremy Clarkson preferred the BMW M3 over the IS-F. However, the IS-F made a surprisingly good showing, Clarkson was genuinely impressed, and I certainly wasn’t expecting that.
As always, it’s a great video — but be sure to watch it quickly, as Top Gear clips don’t remain on Youtube for long.
This Car & Driver video preview of the new 2010 Lexus RX is worth watching if only for the last ten seconds:
The all-German diesel comparisons were funny enough, but I had to rewind the closing remarks three times before I could watch it without laughing. Seriously, what strange circumstances had to occur where an obviously biased member of C&D’s German Bureau is brought in to film a Lexus preview? He even smirks at the end!
You knew it was coming — Lexus kicks offer their annual December to Remember event in the US with their Red Bow commercials. Have no fear, this year’s crop is especially excellent:
Very well done.
Given the economic climate and overall auto market meltdown, it’s no surprise that a slightly different tact was taken. Getting a car for Christmas is probably a once-in-a-lifetime event for most people, and these commercials capture that feeling with great success (though I think they should have substituted an IS-F for that ES).