Lexus to skip plug-in hybrids in favour of fuel-cell cars and full EVs

New fuel-cell and full-EV strategy will see Lexus skip plug-in hybrids to cut CO2, says boss

Lexus will move straight from hybrids to fuel-cell cars and full EVs over the next few years, according to Europe boss Alain Uyttenhoven.

The strategy will see Lexus first launch a hydrogen-powered luxury saloon based on the LF-FC concept in 2020, before moving towards smaller electric cars and SUVs (as previewed by the LF-SA concept) later down the line.

Best plug-in hybrids on sale

Uyttenhoven told Auto Express at the Frankfurt Motor Show: “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.”

As legislation becomes more stringent, Lexus would need to progress beyond its range of hybrids, Uyttenhoven admitted. “Soon we will have to reach 75g/km,” he told us. “At that time pure hybrids will not be sufficient. The two things we can do are introduce plug-in or introduce electric.”

First the Japanese brand will invest in high-end luxury vehicles like hydrogen or electric versions of the LS saloon and LC coupe, as the cost of installing the tech on smaller models is currently too prohibitive. 

Uyttenhoven insisted that for Lexus to really make money using electrified powertrains, the technology would need to filter down to mainstream models like the CT hatchback and NX mid-sized SUV in the future. “In Europe, the more successful electric car sales are at the high end,” Uyttenhoven told us. “But in the premium market, 50 per cent of cars are sold below 40,000 Euros. If it’s more than that, how will people afford it?”

When asked whether Lexus’s first pure-electric venture could be a small, premium EV, Uyttenhoven explained: “It could be. 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.”

Would you buy a plug-in hybrid over the other low CO2 alternatives? Let us know in the comments below...

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