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. Toyota unveils new hybrid-only Lexus

The Lexus range was launched by Toyota in 1999 for the North American market, and was later expanded elsewhere, though it was only introduced in Japan in 2005.
by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) July 14, 2009
Toyota unveiled Tuesday its first Lexus sedan available only as a hybrid, hoping that the popularity of fuel-efficient vehicles will help the luxury range buck the economic downturn.

Toyota Motor said the Lexus HS250h sedan offered improved fuel efficiency of 23 kilometres per litre.

The company said it had received more than 3,000 pre-launch orders for the new model and aims to sell 500 of the vehicles per month in Japan, with a price tag starting from 3.95 million yen (42,500 dollars).

The Lexus luxury line-up already has several hybrid models, but the HS250h is the first that comes only with the fuel-sipping system, combining a 2.4-litre petrol engine with an electric motor.

"This is a new challenge for Lexus," Toyota president Akio Toyoda said at the launch.

The new Lexus, which has a system showing the driver how efficiently it is being driven, will go on sale in North America in September.

Japanese automakers have made strides with hybrid cars -- which are powered both by petrol and electricity -- because of high oil prices and growing concern about emissions blamed for global warming.

Helped by the launch of a remodelled version, Toyota's Prius has been the top-selling car in Japan for the past two months, boosting the company's efforts to recover from its first ever annual loss.

Rival automakers are seeking to challenge its lead. Honda's new Insight hybrid was the top-selling car in April, before being overtaken by the Prius.

The Lexus range was launched by Toyota in 1999 for the North American market, and was later expanded elsewhere, though it was only introduced in Japan in 2005.

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