There’s no avoiding the fact that Toyota, parent company of Lexus has hand their hands in alternative propulsion systems of passenger cars for quite some time. The Toyota Prius is nearly the textbook mental image for hybrids today. Both of the current Lexus flagship models, LC and LS are offered with a hybrid configuration, but as global markets tighten on fuel economy and emissions requirements, will we see Plug-In Hybrid Electric (PHEV) of Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV) variants of these top tier offerings anytime soon?
Is it Viable? From a global market perspective I would venture to say that there is a valid argument to spend the research and development dollars on implementing these models with a plug. As more and more cities around the world continue to deploy congestion charges, it only makes sense to prepare an automotive portfolio for clients who may not be the public transport type, but may have the environment and financial interests in mind.
Fun Factor? Products from Tesla and Porsche for instance have proven that Electric Cars and Plug-In Hybrids can provide an exhilarating experience, and that premium and ultra premium car buyers are willing to give it a try. An application like this might create some restless nights for the engineering teams, but this exercise is like being on an Olympic balance beam, you only get one shot to nail it.
While I’ve only had brief opportunities to sample the Lexus LS500 and LC500 I can imagine that they are two products that would adapt well to this scenario, without having to deviate too far from it’s original experience. We’ll be sure to update if or when a Plug-In Hybrid LC500 or LS500 would come to market!