Lexus Australia CEO Sean Hanley says increased consumer acceptance of the technology and the car maker's aggressive hybrid strategy will see every second vehicle it sells in our market powered by a petrol-electric powertrain by 2018 – up from 35 per cent this year.
“Hybrid will be 50 per cent of our sales … within five years,” Hanley says, “and the reason I say that is because our strategy in terms of our pricing philosophy for the market is clear: hybrid premiums have dropped.”
The Lexus ES large car that launches locally next month will be unique in Lexus Australia’s line-up and unique for the ES line globally in that the $63,000 ES300h hybrid will be ($2000) cheaper than the conventional petrol-powered ES350. Lexus forecasts a 60:40 sales split in favour of the hybrid model.
Hanley says the entry-level hybrid positioning is a “toe in the water” exercise, but says if it proves successful it could be introduced to some of its other vehicle lines.
“We think based on IS sales and based on our traditional hybrid sales this is a very good strategy, because we think acceptance of hybrid is gaining momentum every other month and the more cars we launch the better that outcome is,” he said.
“We’re certainly looking at [offering more entry-level hybrids]. We have GS300h coming [later this year]. I don’t know yet what the price position of that car will be – whether it will be a price leader or not we haven’t confirmed that – but we are eagerly watching how ES hybrid performs as an entry-model car, which will largely determine our future direction.”
The ES300h and GS300h will become Lexus’ sixth and seventh hybrid models in Australia – a fact Hanley says makes the brand the clear hybrid leader in the country.
“No one touches us in that regard.”
Lexus Australia’s 35 per cent hybrid sales rate is approximately 10 per cent higher than the brand’s global petrol-electric sales. In some markets in Europe, hybrid take-up is closer to 90 per cent.