Petrol-electric speed machine could be revealed in October
30 April 2007

The world’s first hybrid supercar is a step closer to being revealed by Lexus at October’s Tokyo motor show.Senior Lexus executives have revealed that “our plan is for every Lexus model to have a hybrid version” a statement that also opens the way for a hybrid IS model, a development that would add an edge to Lexus’s battle with established European luxury brands like BMW and Mercedes. The news leaked out at the European launch of the newest Lexus hybrid - the flagship LS600h saloon – at the end of April, confirming Autocar’s prediction in 2006 that the Lexus supercar would be hybrid powered.Already previewed by two concepts, each badged LF-A, the Lexus supercar is expected to feature a variant of the LS600h’s V8-based hybrid.Billed as offering “V12 performance with the economy of a V8”, the LS 600h features a 388bhp 5.0-litre V8 and 221bhp electric motor combining to make 439bhp.In the LF-A, the technology may need to be upgraded to give a total output closer to 500bhp – when the hybrid would match the rumoured output of the V10 engine said to power a more conventional version of the LF-A.To make the IS saloon fit Lexus’s strategic vision, a hybrid version of that car would likely have a four-cylinder petrol engine to give the performance of a V6 with the economy of a four-cylinder.“But the question is how we develop a four-cylinder hybrid,” says Lexus.The Toyota Prius uses a four-cylinder engine, but of only 1.5-litre capacity and transversely-mounted.An IS hybrid would need an engine of around two litres capacity and the electrical hardware and batteries be packaged around an in-line engine and rear-drive gearbox and axle.Hybrid sales are booming in Europe, with 30 per cent of Lexus sales this year expected to be petrol/electric powered.The hybrid-powered RX 4x4 will overshadow conventional engine models in the UK this year, taking 80 per cent of sales.Sales of the GS450h hybrid saloon in the UK are set to overtake last year’s 624 units. In the first three months of the year, 234 have been registered.

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