There were two separate stories today regarding Lexus’ future hybrid plans that just so happen to tie together quite nicely.
First off, the New York Times reports that Toyota will release 6 new hybrids by 2012:
[Toyota] did not provide details about the coming hybrids, though it provided a chart indicating that four of the new models would be under the Toyota brand and two under Lexus.
Not much to go on — unless you combine it with this Automotive News article that reveals Lexus plans to introduce hybrid versions of existing vehicles with each full model change:
“We want to introduce it with each new model change,” [Lexus R&D Director Kiyotaka] Ise said of plans to offer a hybrid option on current Lexus models. “Compared to Mercedes or BMW, hybrid technology is a key application in the Lexus. That’s the most easily understood difference in the brands.”
Ise also told Automotive News that Lexus aims to develop a more performance-oriented image.
“Up until now, Lexus has been about calm, stable luxury,” Ise said. “From now on it will be more about agility and response, really feeling the braking and acceleration.”
This could suggest the IS will indeed be getting a hybrid variant, as it’s next in line for a full model change after the GS, which already offers a gas-electric option. As for the second model — my best guess would be the ES, though it looks like we can rule out a city supermini for the time being:
Ise wouldn’t speculate about entering other niches — offering, for example, an even smaller model.
“It’s not that we’re not thinking about it,” Ise said. “But first we have to see how the CT does.”