Lexus Does A Soft Launch On New Compact Hybrid Model


Lexus Reveals LF-Ch At The 2008 New York International Auto Show 

March 31, 2008 - New York - Club Lexus picked up on a sparsely attended NYIAS (New York International Auto Show March 21-30) closing session with Lexus/Toyota at the "Toyota Live!" event that was mostly overlooked by the automotive press.

During the news review portion of the interactive show, Lexus discussed several upcoming changes to their model line as well as new vehicles that will make their way onto showroom floors near term (defined as model years 2009 - 2011). The one that caught us by surprise was the reveal of a planned small vehicle in the Lexus lineup termed a "compact luxury hybrid".

Said an unnamed corporate spokesperson at the event "Given the pressure of rising fuel costs and requests from many of our loyal customers and dealers, Lexus is planning to rapidly bring to market a compact luxury hybrid vehicle, currently called the LF-Ch". When asked for more details on how quickly Lexus plans to bring this auto to a showroom near you, the spokesperson shared that existing and new mechanical platforms will be married with an all-new luxury interior design for a compact vehicle that should begin to be available in late 2009.

The mechanicals will combine the advanced drivetrain from the upcoming 2009 Toyota Prius (using the much-anticipated lithium battery and plug in sources when available) mounted in an updated-and-rebadged chassis based on the current Toyota Yaris. Like the new Prius, the LF-Ch is expected to be able to run longer in pure electric mode (up to 30 mph), which will both extend the zero-emissions range and make up to a whispered 100mpg target possible!

What's especially different about this car is how Lexus plans to make the well-reviewed gas-sipper into a bona-fide luxury vehicle by ripping out the back seats and turning the interior into a palace built only for two passengers and their leather luggage. That's right, a two seater hybrid! The spokesperson claimed that he had ridden extensively in prototype LF-Ch vehicles and said it was "like riding in a silent silk-lined egg" with extensive legroom that exceeds the much larger ES350's cabin space. Extensive lightweight soundproofing and all of Lexus' normal amenities are expected to be available on the LF-Ch.

While this segment is currently overlooked or shunned by most luxury marques, we hope that this groundbreaking vehicle lives up to the description! Certainly if gas prices continue to rise as they have recently, Lexus is looking at a lot of interested buyers!

The spokesperson was also asked at the closing session about Lexus' plans for revealing details about a long-rumored GS-F and confirming a LF-A production date. He was non-committal on both topics and when asked about the Lexus LF-A, he just said "400 kilometers".