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Posts Tagged ‘2010 Lexus RX450h’

RX Hybrid Enters Canadian Production this Year

The first Lexus model made outside of Japan will also become the first Toyota hybrid ever assembled offshore.

by on Jun.15, 2009

Lexus 2010 RX450h

Adding what is essentially a powertrain option to a plant is a less risky bet for the conservative company, which is reeling from huge losses.

Lexus confirms that the hybrid version of its best selling RX350, the RX450h, will enter production this fall at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada (TMMC), which also builds the Corolla and Matrix models.

This decision, from the division of Toyota that leads the U.S. luxury vehicle sales race, is in stark contrast to one that suspended work earlier this year on a U.S. plant in Alabama for the lower-priced Toyota Prius. Prius is of course the unchallenged global hybrid champion. But it saw sales plummet in parallel with declining gasoline prices in 2009. A new 2010 Prius has just gone on sale, but the U.S. plant is still in limbo as Toyota officials debate its future.

Toyota’s  record losses of $4.4 billion in 2008, and a staggering loss of $7.7 billion in the first quarter of 2009 have shaken management, which is traditionally risk adverse. So adding what is essentially a powertrain option to an existing  manufacturing plant costs hundreds of millions of dollars less than the more substantial tooling costs for a dedicated hybrid plant. It is also a less risky sales bet. If buyers do not appear, the Canadian plant can simply change its build mix to conventionally powered RXs, still the best sellers in the line.

The 2010 RX 450h introduces an updated version of Lexus Hybrid Drive, with a 3.5-liter V6 Atkinson-cycle engine, lighter electric motors, a smaller and lighter power-control unit and other fuel-saving touches. It offers performance similar to small V8s, with an EPA-estimated 32 mpg city and 28 mpg highway (30 mpg combined) for the front-drive version. This is about 16-20% better economy than its RX400h predecessor.

The Lexus RX series demolished the commonly held assertion at U.S. car companies that a sport utility vehicle had to be built from a truck chassis. Not only did the passenger-car derived RX300 catapult Lexus to the number one sales spot in the U.S. luxury segment where it still resides, but it ended the reign of body-on-frame, rear-drive trucks as the basis for luxury vehicles. More than one million RXs have been sold worldwide.

The second-generation RX330, debuted in 2005 with an optional gasoline-electric powertrain — making it the world’s first luxury hybrid. Together, the two versions nudged U.S. RX sales to an all-time record of more than 100,000 in 2007, with the division selling 329,177 vehicles in total. Last year RX sales plummeted to 80,000, but Lexus retained its U.S. luxury sales lead with 260,087 vehicles sold in 2008, although it was down 21.2% from 2007. (more…)

First Drive: 2010 Lexus RX350 and RX450h

Making it tough or tougher for the competition.

by on Feb.20, 2009

The 2010 RX350 - 3rd generation luxury crossover.

The 2010 RX350 - 3rd generation luxury crossover.

It’s a rare occurrence, but every so often, an automaker introduces something unique and exciting, a product that creates a niche of its own in an otherwise crowded market. Ford’s Model T was one, of course, as was that automaker’s Mustang, which followed decades later. Chrysler hit a home run with its minivans.

In 1998, Lexus weighed in with the all-new RX300, which boasted the functionality of a minivan, the go-anywhere cache of an SUV and the comfortable ride and fuel economy of a sedan-like crossover. Adding the quietness, luxury features and reliability that Lexus was already known for, the RX was an instant success, quickly becoming the Japanese marque’s top-selling product line.

The second-generation RX330, which followed in 2005, delivered more of what customers craved, including an optional gasoline-electric powertrain – making it the world’s first luxury hybrid. Together, the two versions nudged RX sales to an all-time record of more than 100,000 in 2007.

Can Lexus three-peat with the third-generation RX350, and its companion hybrid, the RX450h? The new offerings certainly looked good, when we got our first look at last year’s Los Angeles Auto Show. The 2010 crossover is the most sophisticated and attractive version we’ve yet seen, and as we’ve come to expect from Lexus, it was loaded with an array of upscale and high-tech features, from the all-new, leather and wood-clad interior to the Remote Touch controller, a mouse-like device that easily operates systems such as the Navigation computer and audio.

(more…)