Lexus has no plans to introduce new-generation diesel models as the company bets its future on naturally aspirated petrol engines as well as hybrid and derivative technologies.
Lexus offers no diesel-powered vehicles in Australia, though a Lexus IS220d has been on offer in the diesel-centric European markets in the past.
Speaking to CarAdvice in Melbourne, Lexus Australia’s head of marketing, Peter Evans, confirmed that nothing is closed off to Lexus except diesel technology, which he labelled a band-aid solution to cleaner, greener drivetrains since diesels require enormous after-cleaning technology to meet incoming emissions targets.
“By the time you get to Euro 7 [European emission regulations], the add on to clean up the tailpipe emissions is so expensive that ultimately the cheaper and more cost efficient approach could be fuel cells, it could be hybrid. Some of the manufacturers may jump straight from turbo diesels to hybrid,” Evans said.
Speaking about the recent introduction of BMW’s hybrid range and fellow Japanese luxury car maker’s Infiniti M35h sedan, Evans said Lexus is looking forward to having more hybrids from different manufactures on the market to cement the technology’s credentials.
“That’s a problem being a pioneer… Not only do you have to sell your car but you have to sell your technology [as well[,” Evans said of the challenges facing the company in selling hybrids.
BMW is set to bring in a small number of its ActiveHybrid5 and ActiveHybrid7 vehicles to showcase the brand’s hybrid development. Evans said this move was more of a marketing exercise on BMW Australia’s behalf than anything else.
“I think BMW is experiencing today what we experienced 10 years ago, that their hybrids are first generation and are incredibly expensive.”
Asked if Lexus sales would increase if it were to introduce a diesel variant of the Lexus RX SUV, which plays in a category dominated by German diesel SUVs, Evans reiterated that more than 30 per cent of RX sales are now hybrid and that Lexus is committed to that technology.
“I wouldn’t want to sell out on our principles of 10 years of hybrid research for having a short-term solution”
Lexus is expected to launch the next-generation IS range next year, with the luxury medium-car set to compete against the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and Audi A4 with a hybrid variant for the first time.