Lexus HS 250h Launches in Japan with 1,500 Pre-Orders

Lexus HS250h

The Lexus HS 250h has been launched in Japan, where it has racked up an astounding 1,500 pre-orders, three times the expected monthly sales.

One interesting fact from the Lexus press release:

Based on the brand’s core principle of “pursuing the essence of luxury”, Lexus aimed to develop a luxurious “harmonious sedan”, hence the “HS” in the vehicle’s name. The result is a car that not only exists harmoniously with Earth and people but also exudes the high quality for which Lexus is renowned.

The expectation was that the H is HS stood for Hybrid, which seemed redundant considering the lowercase h. Harmonious Sedan doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, but it’s certainly preferable.

The 1,500 pre-orders has been attributed to the eight-month waiting period for a Prius in Japan, but whatever the case, it speaks of a strong interest, and it will be interesting to see if this enthusiasm is mirrored in North America.

The HS should arrive in dealerships by late August.

The full press release after the jump.

[Via: Nihon Car]

Tokyo, July 14, 2009 — Lexus announces the launch in Japan today of the “HS250h”*1, its first dedicated hybrid model.

Based on the brand’s core principle of “pursuing the essence of luxury”, Lexus aimed to develop a luxurious “harmonious sedan”, hence the “HS” in the vehicle’s name. The result is a car that not only exists harmoniously with Earth and people but also exudes the high quality for which Lexus is renowned.

Specifically, the HS250h combines outstanding driving performance with a hybrid-system-achieved 23.0km/l*2 fuel efficiency, which is exceptional for a premium sedan. A concerted effort has also been made to use Ecological Plastic, a plant-based plastic that reduces environmental impact, for interior parts and components. Further, the cockpit environment has been designed to lessen the need for physical movement or switching visual focus, thus allowing the driver to concentrate fully on the task of driving. These are among the advanced features that make the HS250h a new breed of premium sedan.

Lexus plans to introduce the HS250h in North America in September.

Premium sedan with outstanding fuel efficiency, environmental performance and related technologies

Fuel efficiency and environmental performance :

The HS250h features a hybrid system combining a 2.4-liter Atkinson cycle combustion engine with an electric motor and a reduction gear, realizing a fuel efficiency of 23.0km/l, which is exceptional for a premium sedan. Also, by delaying intake valve closure, the engine achieves a high expansion ratio at low pressure, thus raising heat efficiency. Under the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) JC08 test cycle, the HS250h has a fuel efficiency of 19.8km/l. The vehicle meets new 2015 Japanese fuel efficiency standards set out under the Law Concerning the Rational Use of Energy, and CO2 emissions are 75% lower than the 2005 standards under the MLIT approval system for low-emission vehicles, which is currently the strictest standard in Japan for emissions. The HS250h thus qualifies for incentives under the Japanese government’s taxation system for environmentally friendly vehicles.

The vehicle features a total of four switch-engaged driving modes, including the standard mode designed to balance requirements for both high fuel efficiency and power.

-Eco Mode improves fuel efficiency by optimally aligning driving force with accelerator operation and putting air conditioner into low-energy-consumption mode
-Power Mode allows more agile driving with outstanding acceleration performance by increasing output response level to accelerator operation
-Electric Vehicle (EV) Drive Mode uses electric motor only for extremely quiet cruising

The transaxle is exceptionally small and light, with a compact high-speed motor that achieves increased output and a reduction gear that increases torque.

An exhaust heat recovery system uses exhaust gas to heat the engine, thus shortening engine-warming time and contributing to greatly improved fuel efficiency, especially when outside temperatures are low.

Special glass blocks roughly 30% of infrared rays, keeping interior temperatures from rising and thus reducing the need for air conditioning.

LED headlights, taillights and stoplights conserve electric power and consequently reduce power-generation requirements on the engine.

The vehicle is fitted with the recently developed Harmonious Driving Navigator, which awards points for environmentally considerate driving that can then be used, for instance, to make donations to a charity. This system creates a fun way to encourage drivers to drive in an environmentally considerate way.

-Through linkup with advanced telematic service G-Link*3, navigator assesses driver’s degree of compliance with and proficiency in environmentally considerate driving
-Donations from earned points go to projects registered with “Project Mirai Isan” (future heritage project) of -National Federation of UNESCO Associations in Japan*4, run by civic groups to preserve cultural and natural assets of local communities

Environmental impact reduction
Plant-based Ecological Plastic has been adopted for the first time for the luggage-space trim surface. The wide range of applications for this material includes the scuff plates, toolbox, other injection-moulded parts and the foam material used in the seat cushions.
-Ecological Plastic—carbon-neutral*5—emits less CO2 during product’s lifecycle (from manufacture to disposal) than plastic made solely from petroleum, thus also reducing dependence on petroleum
-When used in vehicle interiors, Ecological Plastic displays same level of heat-resistance and shock-resistance as conventional petroleum-based plastics

Recycled plastics have also been used innovatively, thus further reducing environmental impact.

TMC employed its Eco-Vehicle Assessment System (Eco-VAS)—its original system to comprehensively assess environmental impact. Eco-VAS includes setting targets at the start of vehicle development to help reduce environmentally harmful factors by such means as the balanced reduction of CO2 emissions. A life-cycle assessment was carried out to reduce air contaminants and CO2 from the vehicle throughout its lifecycle.

Careful consideration of the materials, processing methods and adhesives used for interior parts reduced volatile organic compounds and unpleasant interior odors to levels compliant with voluntary industry standards.

Aerodynamic design and ergonomic cockpit

Exterior

The design, based on the L-finesse*6 concept, pursues the advanced image worthy of a dedicated hybrid model, combining occupant comfort with aerodynamics that contribute to outstanding fuel efficiency.

Interior cabin is relatively long compared to overall vehicle length, achieving both spacious interior and image that conveys vehicle’s advanced hybrid nature, with long cabin proportions integral to Lexus identity
Resolute expression presented by grille set low relative to LED headlights is basis for new front image that incorporates grille arrangement designed for aerodynamic efficiency and devised for previously shown Lexus hybrid motor-show models
Vehicle’s axial line at vehicle shoulder height, extending from front to rear of side profile, and unique C-pillar-corner “arrowhead” profile are hallmarks of Lexus
In rear, vehicle’s sides are tapered and shoulders are drawn in to produce slant, giving distinctive look of stability while also contributing to aerodynamic performance
Ten body colors—of depth and beauty that only Lexus can provide—are available

Aerodynamics
The shaping of the side silhouette, front grille, front and rear bumpers, rear fenders, and other exterior parts were aerodynamically designed, allowing the vehicle to achieve a class-leading 0.27*7coefficient drag value.

Front pillars are positioned forward, while rearmost portion of roof is gently sloped, resulting in excellent aerodynamics
Upper part of grille presents solid surface that blends into hood, while opening of lower part of grille is set low into bumper to improve air intake
Sides of front bumper have plane surface to direct airflow along body, while front spoiler and rear bumper spoiler also streamline airflow, reducing turbulence and lowering air resistance
Edges of rear-combination taillights and spoke profile around rims of 17-inch aluminum wheels have been shaped for optimal aerodynamics
Underfloor covers across large sections under vehicle body create smoothness, while addition of aerodynamic fins to rear underfloor covers ensures excellent maneuvering stability

Interior
Along with its elegance, the interior design achieves an ergonomic cockpit that combines high levels of visibility and operability to create an advanced driver-oriented space. A clear distinction is made between the information-filled Display Zone and the function-control Operation Zone, resulting in a cockpit layout that allows the driver to concentrate on the task of driving.

Position of navigation screen, which displays maps, air-conditioning and audio-system information, and other data, is optimized to reduce need for shifting visual focus
Heads-up display allows driver to view various information, such as speed, lane information and warnings, without need for excessive eye movement
“Remote Touch” system allows driver to operate on-screen cursor with fingertips and is optimally positioned on center cluster that has distinctive “floating” profile, symbolic of its advanced operational feel; together with steering-wheel-mounted controls, reduces need for driving-posture changes
Touch Tracer feature on heads-up display shows which part of steering switch fingertips are touching
Shift lever, conveniently located right next to steering wheel, is operated by “electro-shiftomatic” system (shift-by-wire system), requiring minimal driver effort

The shaping of the door trim, which matches the floating profile of the center cluster, along with the fine-grade, artificial leather finish on both sides of the center cluster and on the meter hood, is designed to convey a cutting-edge image and a high-quality feel.

There are 10 interior color schemes available, including the eye-catching “Black and Camel Yellow” and the newly developed, futuristic “Water White”.

Highly practical Intelligent Package and range of useful features

The vehicle’s Intelligent Package provides a spacious cabin and ample luggage room, while also ensuring forward visibility and ease of ingress and egress.

Slightly elevated hip point contributes to forward visibility
Optimized positioning of doorways and seats creates ease of ingress and egress
Slimmer front seatbacks allow more legroom at knee height for increased rear comfort and ease of ingress and egress
Optimization of shape and position of hybrid-system battery secures enough luggage space to accommodate four golf bags*8

The hard-disk drive navigation system features an 8-inch pop-up display that, together with the Remote Touch feature, achieves a high level of both visibility and operability.

A 10-speaker Lexus HS Premium Sound System that produces a dramatic expansion of the sound field comes standard. Also available is a 15-speaker Mark Levinson® premium surround-sound audio system that aims to create a clearer and richer audio environment.

Plasmacluster®*9 air-purifying technology with a negative ion generation function, fills the cabin with air that has an equal ratio of positive and negative ions and helps prevent the propagation of airborne germs, mold and bacteria, thus contributing to the creation of a stress-free cabin environment.

The vehicle features a ventilation system that reduces seat and seatback surface temperature of the front seats. This allows greater driving comfort, thus reducing need for air-conditioner use, and through this, improving fuel efficiency. There is also a front seat heater that effectively warms the shoulders and legs to save on electric power.

High-quality driving

Intensive spot-welding in areas such as the doorways and floor, bonding of the front suspension tower and the cowl and other enhancements throughout the vehicle produce a high-rigidity body with outstanding handling and stability.

In addition to the high-rigidity body, use of vibration-damping suspension members and effective placing of vibration-reducing and soundproofing materials raises the high level of quietness that typifies a hybrid vehicle.

Optimization of the suspension geometry, adoption of highly responsive shock absorbers with rebound springs and other measures make for superior straight-driving stability and cornering, while at the same time providing a smooth, high-quality ride.

The vehicle is fitted with a newly developed, compact electric power steering (EPS) system. Electric assist features enable fine control in line with vehicle speed, thus realizing a feeling of direct steering control from low to high speeds.

Outstanding safety performance

A Pre-crash Safety System and other advanced technologies, combined with the provision of up to 10 airbags contribute to outstanding safety performance.

Pre-crash Safety System (featuring millimeter-wave radar) employs eye monitor to detect whether driver’s eyes are properly open, while also determining direction of driver’s face; if risk of accident is determined, system warns driver with buzzer and automatic braking
If risk of collision from vehicle approaching from behind is determined by Pre-crash Safety System, hazard lights flash to warn driver; if collision is highly probable, system shifts headrests to optimum position to brace passenger for impact and lessen risk of injuries
Both front seats come standard with Active Headrest, which shifts headrests to appropriate position to lessen stress on neck and reduce risk of whiplash injury sustained during rear-end collision
On highways and freeways, Lane-keeping Assist alerts driver of lane divergence and assists driver with corrective steering
Radar cruise control (with brake control) maintains appropriate distance from vehicle in front for set speed
Braking-signal system that flashes brakelights in event of sudden braking to warn driver of vehicle behind is standard on all vehicles
Dual-stage supplemental restraint system (SRS) airbags, which exert appropriate restraining force in line with frontal collision force, SRS knee airbags and SRS side and curtain-shield airbags are standard on all vehicles; available rear-seat side airbags enable protective ring of up to 10 airbags