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Lexus Celebrates 30 Years of Lexus Hybrid Range

Auto News - Published on Tue, 03 Dec 2019

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Ever since its entry into the luxury car market in 1989, Lexus has repeatedly broken the convention with pioneering new ideas. Years of research and development culminated in the RX 400h, the first self-charging hybrid Lexus and world’s first luxury hybrid vehicle, launched in 2005. On the outside it looked little different from the familiar RX 300 SUV, but under the skin things were very different. Yes, there was a 3.3-litre petrol V6 engine under the bonnet, but this was just one element in the radical, all-new self-charging hybrid electric system.

The second generation of Lexus Hybrid Drive raised the game significantly. Such was the technology’s status within the company, it was deployed in its new flagship sedan, the LS 600h, in 2007. As the first hybrid system to feature a V8 engine, a 5.0-litre unit, the most technically advanced Lexus had yet built, it delivered the kind of power and performance typically associated with a V12. The system delivered 445 DIN hp and 520 Nm of torque, giving acceleration from zero to 100 km/h in just 6.3 seconds. A sportier aspect of hybrid power was also witnessed in the GS 450h sports sedan. A two-stage motor speed reduction planetary gear was used in both the GS and LS models, but for the LS 600h the hybrid transmission was upgraded. The nickel-metal hydride battery produced 280 V, but a boost converter could ramp this up to 650 V.

The third generation of Lexus Hybrid Drive made advances both in efficiency and responsiveness. The revised system was first seen in the IS 300h, the first IS to feature hybrid power, which entered the market in 2013. Central to the improved performance was a new 2.5-litre Atkinson cycle petrol engine, equipped with D-4S direct fuel injection, Dual VVT-i intelligent variable valve-timing and a high-efficiency exhaust gas recirculation system. Combined with the hybrid transaxle, this duly gave class-leading, sub-100 g/km CO2 emissions and fuel economy from 4.3 l/100 km. With further refinements, this system was also adopted for the Lexus NX, the company’s first mid-size crossover, and the RC 300h coupe, both of which joined the range in 2014.

Featured in the new ES 300h sedan and UX 250h compact crossover launched in early 2019, it combines the benefits of an all-new, ultra-efficient Atkinson cycle engine (2.5l in ES, 2.0l in UX) with a new electric motor that’s lighter, more compact and more power dense.

The hybrid concept is an ingenious marriage of an internal combustion engine and an electric motor. Their performance – in unison or individually is governed automatically and seamlessly by an intelligent system that draws power from the appropriate source to maximize efficiency, or performance. Electric power is generated by the engine while the car is being driven, and is also converted from the kinetic energy produced when braking or slowing down. Power is stored in a high-voltage battery that needs no plug-in recharging.

Within 15 years Lexus has made hybrid central to its brand, extending its reach from a single model in 2005 to a range of 10 vehicles in its European line-up today, covering many different body styles and performance levels. Worldwide, cumulative hybrid sales have passed 1.6 million units, while in Western Europe hybrids now account for 99 per cent of all the new Lexus cars sold in the region.

CT 200h premium hatchback
IS 300h executive sports sedan
RC 300h sports coupe
UX 250h compact crossover
ES 300h mid-size luxury sedan
NX 300h mid-size crossover
RX 450h large crossover
RX L 450h seven-seat crossover
LC 500h flagship coupe
LS 500h flagship sedan

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Posted By : Rabi Wangkhem on Tue, 03 Dec 2019
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