The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

Lexus Introduces the First Luxury Hybrid

January 11, 2005

DETROIT — Lexus introduced what it says will be the world's first luxury gas-electric hybrid SUV on January 9 at a press conference at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The RX 400h will be powered by a V-6 Hybrid Synergy Drive system that combines sub-eight second zero-to-sixty acceleration with fuel-efficiency equivalent to the current average for a four-cylinder compact sedan. The RX 400h will also be rated super ultra low emission vehicle (SULEV), one of the most stringent emissions rating in the industry. The new RX 400h will become the premium model in the RX series, offering smoother and quieter operation, increased performance, significantly better fuel economy and a host of high technology, safety and comfort features. The RX 400h will introduce VDM, or Vehicle Dynamic Management. Monitoring a variety of sensors, the system is designed to anticipate the onset of a vehicle skid or slide and then help correct the situation with a combination of braking and throttle control. The new VDM system is less obtrusive than conventional VSC but ultimately more effective. The 400h hybrid powertrain combines a powerful electric motor with the 3.3-liter V6 engine found in the RX 330 to improve low to mid-speed acceleration and overall fuel efficiency. The system is a "full hybrid," meaning that the RX 400h is capable of operating in separate gas or electric modes, as well as a mode that combines power from both. The RX 400h will develop a peak system output of approximately 270 horsepower and deliver combined fuel economy significantly better than the current average compact sedan rating of 27.6 miles-per-gallon. The RX 400h with optional all-wheel-drive, which features a rear-drive electric motor, will accelerate quicker yet. The RX 400h uses a regenerative braking system to further boost system efficiency. When the vehicle is coasting or the brakes are applied, the electric motor functions as a generator, capturing kinetic energy that would normally be lost as heat through the brakes and converting it into useable electricity to recharge the batteries. Nearly every feature available in the RX 330 is found in the RX 400h, with the exception of an exclusive RX 400h use of brushed aluminum accents inside that convey a high-tech look and feel to match its capabilities. Preliminary Specifications:
  • Engine - 3.3L V-6
  • Electric motor(s) - Permanent magnet
  • Estimated total horsepower – 270
  • Expected EPA emissions rating - Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (SULEV)
  • Transmission - Electronically-controlled Continuously Variable Transmission (ECVT)
  • Wheelbase: 106.9 in.
  • Length: 186.6 in.
  • Width:72.6 in.
  • Height: 66.1 in.
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