Lexus Hybrid Models to Lose Sales to the Tesla Model 3?

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Lexus Hybrid

Will Tesla’s new EV really poach some of the 100,000+ annual buyers of the Lexus hybrid lineup?

For years, the Lexus hybrid lineup has remained at the forefront of the entire automotive industry. In fact, they launched the world’s first luxury hybrid vehicle, the RX 400h, back in 2005. Since then, they’ve continued to offer a wide range of cutting edge hybrid cars and SUVs. But what they don’t offer, at least not yet, is a fully electric vehicle.

On the other hand, Tesla builds nothing but EVs. And even though the two are both builders of premium sedans, can they truly be considered competitors for that very reason? Green energy site Clean Technica certainly seems to think so, anyway. They even take things one step further by suggesting that the forthcoming Model 3 will steal sales from the Lexus sedan lineup.

In 2016 alone, Lexus sold 116,369 ES, GS, IS, and CT models – both hybrid and gas powered. So what percentage of that number does Clean Technica think the Model 3 will steal away? To quote author Zachary Shahan exactly, “looking at the specs drivers typically care about, I think there’s a huuuuuge opening.”

Lexus Hybrid

To be more specific, Shahan considers the Model 3 to be superior to Lexus in “performance, high-tech appeal/branding, and overall ‘cool’ factor.” Which is what he says luxury “green” buyers are looking for. Plus, the death of the Lexus CT means that the Tesla also undercuts the rest on price by at least $4,000. Not including the $7,500 tax credit you’ll receive. The Tesla also outruns all Lexus hybrids to 60 miles per hour, except the GS, which it ties at 5.6 seconds. So it’s a clean sweep, right?

Well, not exactly. The base Model 3 is not going to come close to competing with any Lexus in regards to interior design or quality. It won’t even come with the many gadgets and second, larger screen of the more expensive Tesla models. Clean Technica counters this by saying that those who left luxury cars behind for the Tesla Model S “don’t care too much about that” because “of the drive quality that Tesla wins hands down.” For those reasons, they come to the determination that  Lexus simply can’t compete with the Model 3.

As the rest of us already know, Lexus (and their buyers) don’t care too much about ultimate performance or bargain basement pricing. They care about pure luxury, comfort, quality, and reliability. Which are all things Lexus vehicles have in spades. Some of which current Tesla models seem to lack completely. In fact, high repair costs and reliability issues are forcing AAA to raise premiums on Tesla vehicles up to 30%, according to a recent report.

Tesla Model 3

Finally, styling. Clean Technica claims that everyone they talked to at the Model 3 unveiling “thought the Model 3 was stunning.” But as we all know, the design was so controversial that Elon Musk himself tweeted out a request for feedback. And fans responded by sending him pictures of what they thought the car should look like. Has any Lexus model ever elicited that kind of response?

Call us skeptical, but we’ll wait and see just how many Lexus sales fall to the Model 3.

Brett Foote has been covering the automotive industry for over five years and is a longtime contributor to Internet Brands’ Auto Group sites, including Chevrolet Forum, Rennlist, and Ford Truck Enthusiasts, among other popular sites.

He has been an automotive enthusiast since the day he came into this world and rode home from the hospital in a first-gen Mustang, and he's been wrenching on them nearly as long.

In addition to his expertise writing about cars, trucks, motorcycles, and every other type of automobile, Brett had spent several years running parts for local auto dealerships.

You can follow along with his builds and various automotive shenanigans on Instagram: @bfoote.

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