• SHARE

Toyota Motor Corp. introduced two top-of-the-line Lexus LS sedans in Japan on Thursday, hoping the cars’ hybrid technology will accelerate the automaker’s efforts to establish Lexus as a premium brand on the world stage.

“We combined the hybrid technology and all the other cutting-edge technologies currently available to make the LS hybrid models,” Toyota President Katsuaki Watanabe told a news conference at a Tokyo hotel.

The two Lexus models — the LS 600h and the LS 600hL — are equipped with a new hybrid system that combines a high-powered electric motor and a full-time all-wheel drive system, the first of its kind, according to Toyota.

Thanks to the new powerful hybrid system, the cars’ 5-liter V8 engine performs as well as a regular 6-liter engine, Toyota said.

Boasting a fuel economy of 12.2 kpl, the LS hybrids almost halve the carbon dioxide emissions of conventional gasoline-fueled 6-liter vehicles, the world’s most profitable automaker said.

Measuring 12 cm longer than its companion model, the LS 600hL offers extra rear-seat space.

The monthly sales target for the hybrids is set at 300 vehicles. Prices for the LS 600h range from 9.7 million yen to 12.2 million yen, and 13.3 million yen to 15.1 million yen for the LS 600hL.

In overseas markets, Toyota plans to launch the LS hybrids in 37 countries and regions including the United States, Europe, China and other Asian nations, starting in June.

Total Lexus sales worldwide stood at 475,000 vehicles in 2006. By adding the LS hybrids to the Lexus lineup, Toyota hopes to raise the figure to more than 500,000 this year, the company said.

Watanabe said total global sales of all Toyota hybrids has surpassed 1 million units earlier this month in the 10 years since the company introduced the Prius, the world’s first commercially mass-produced hybrid vehicle, in December 1997.

Toyota is pushing the hybrid system as a core environmental technology and has pledged to raise its annual global sales of hybrids to 1 million in the early 2010s by doubling the number of models featuring the system.

Toyota sold 312,000 hybrids in 2006 and hopes to sell 430,000 units this year.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.

SUBSCRIBE NOW