Lexus describes move as 'logical'

Lexus has canned the petrol-engined GS and LS models in the UK market, cutting the range down to hybrid models only.

The GS and LS ranges now consist of one model each – the GS450h and L600h – and Lexus will only sell the new RX as a hybrid in the UK (it is available with the petrol V6 in the US).

See the Lexus GS and LS picture gallery

A Lexus source described the decision as “a logical move for the company”.

The IS range will remain as it is, with petrol and diesel options still available.

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The Lexus GS has been injected with a few ounces of sportiness, making it a left-field contender in the mid-size exec category

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26 August 2009

The problem with this decision is that the hybrid versions of the the GS & LS have such small boots compared to the petrol versions because of the battery pack (and 2nd aircon unit in some LS versions).

If Lexus are committed to this market, I think they should have retuned the GS300 to produce less than 225gm CO2 (where there is a big hike in tax in the UK). It would also probably be possible to produce an LS300 (ie LS with 3 litre V6) with less than 225gm CO2.

Before anyone says that someone buying one of these cars isn't bothered whether road tax is £215 or £405 (this years rates), the point is that 2nd and 3rd owners at, say 3 or 5 years old ARE bothered. This has a serious impact on residual values, causing new car buyers to avoid these large petrol cars due to high depreciation.

Add to this political indications that the current 2 categories of cars above 225 gm CO2 could have their road tax increased to about £1000 per year by a future government and you can see why these cars are virtually unsaleable in the UK, despite being popular in other markets.

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26 August 2009

Sales of non-hybrid LS, GS and RX in recent years were such a small (single digit) percentage of the overall sales - i.e. demand was very low - it makes little sense to incur the cost of re-engineering them to meet lower emission limits when we have the hybrids that already do that and more.

The historic sales split in favour of hybrid over the petrol derivatives suggests that boot space is not a major factor in the purchase decision.

Lexus is the only premium brand in the UK to offer hybrid, indeed half of all hybrid cars currently on sale in the UK are Lexus models, making hybrid a strong USP for us.

Streaming the range, IS apart, to be all hybrid, is a logical step.

26 August 2009

I would think the real advantage here is that they are moving towards a hybrid-only identity, like the Prius. The idea being that people see an LS or GS (and eventually a Lexus full stop) and automatically assume its a hybrid because that's all they come with. Will hike the credentials of the brand somewhat if/when the IS completes the picture.

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