Exec: Lexus Will Focus On Hybrids Because Plug-Ins Aren’t As Green

While Lexus is currently one of the leading brands for the hybrid market, the company doesn’t have plans to add any plug-ins to the fleet, saying the technology isn’t as eco-friendly.

Mark Templin, group vice president and general manager for Toyota’s Lexus division, talked more about the company’s choices and priorities at the recent New York Auto Show.

“There are too many hurdles, and we’re not sold yet on plug-in hybrids,” said Templin in an interview with Green Car Reports. “There’s a case to be made for them as a sales tool, but not as a way to save the environment.

“The reality is that in most places, people only buy plug-in hybrids for the tax benefit or carpool lane benefit – and then they never plug them in.”

Even though the ability to run only on electric energy is possible, emitting zero emissions, Templin said many people drive their plug-in hybrid the same as a regular car.

“The government creates a regulation that’s supposed to create better emissions, less pollution, better mpg, and the reality is you add weight to the car and it gets poorer emissions,” Templin explained.

“You’re not really doing what the regulation was intended to do. Unless you force people to plug them in, you’re not getting the intended benefit.”

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Lexus doesn’t extend this same sentiment to the hybrid market. The brand currently has as many vehicles in the category as parent company Toyota.

In March, Lexus had six listings on the HybridCars.com dashboard for hybrid vehicles: the CT200h, ES Hybrid, RX 450h (pictured above), NX Hybrid, GS 450h, and LS 600h. These accumulated a monthly total of 3,374 sales, which accounted for 10 percent of all hybrid sales in the U.S.

Despite the carmaker’s success in this category, its name is absent in battery electric, fuel cell and plug-in markets. In comparison, parent company Toyota has one model in each of the other major alternative fuel segments: battery electric RAV4 EV, Prius Plug In, and hydrogen-powered Mirai.

SEE ALSO: Lexus Developing Luxury FCEV Sedan

Though Templin said Lexus may expand into other segments in the future, it probably won’t be participating in the plug-in hybrid market.

“Unfortunately when you build a plug-in hybrid you add weight to the vehicle, and you make it less fuel-efficient,” Templin said. “Unless you plug it in and then use the electricity, that itself may come from a coal-fire plant.”

Lexus hasn’t announced any plans for building its own battery electric vehicle. But, if it does, Templin says the company already has a head start.

“The nice thing for us is, because we’re a part of Toyota, we have hybrids, plug-in hybrids, electric cars, fuel cells, all that’s sitting there on the parts shelf, and if we see a need for those things, we can do it.”

 

Green Car Reports