TORRANCE, CA – Lexus revealed the 2010 HS 250h, the world’s first dedicated luxury hybrid vehicle, at the North American International Auto Show. This year’s show marked the 20th anniversary of the debut of the first Lexus vehicles, the LS 400 and ES 250. The cars were introduced at the NAIAS in 1989. The HS 250h will be Lexus’ fourth hybrid and is expected to offer the best combined fuel mileage of any luxury vehicle in the U.S. It also will be the first Lexus to utilize carbon-neutral Ecological Plastic materials in a new futuristic cockpit and interior design, helping the car to be 85 percent recyclable.
A welcomed addition to Lexus’ entry-luxury sedan lineup, the HS 250h fits nicely between the IS luxury sport sedan and the ES luxury sedan. Research has shown that more than 60 percent of entry-luxury car buyers would have considered a hybrid if available, and the HS will provide these consumers with a viable purchase option, according to the manufacturer.
Equipped with Lexus’ first four-cylinder gas engine, the 2.4L Atkinson-cycle powerplant is part of the latest Lexus Hybrid Drive System, which generates 187 total system horsepower. The highly efficient Atkinson-cycle engine, made possible by the Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i) system, allows the expansion/power stroke to be longer than the compression stroke so that combustion energy can be more effectively used for production of engine power. The HS 250h sedans expected fuel efficiency will be more than 30-percent better than the most fuel-efficient model currently in the Lexus lineup, while earning a SULEV emissions rating utilizing regular 87-octane gasoline. Among the technologies adopted in the 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine are cooling piston oil jets; an optimized balance shaft rate for improved noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) characteristics; and a hot-air venting system mounted behind the radiator.
The HS 250h will include a new system designed to improve efficiency. The exhaust heat recovery system reduces engine warm-up time, thus allowing it to stop earlier, more often, and for longer periods. A windshield with infrared-ray (IR) reduction properties, which helps keep the interior more cool, has been adopted in order to decrease the amount of air conditioning needed to lower the cabin temperature. In addition to the exhaust heat recovery system and the IR windshield, available power-saving LED headlamps also contribute to improved fuel efficiency and emissions.
As is appropriate for the first dedicated luxury hybrid vehicle, the HS 250h includes proactive adoption of plant-based, carbon-neutral “ecological plastics” or bio-plastics in specific interior areas. Ecological plastic emits less carbon dioxide during a product’s lifecycle than plastic made solely from petroleum. Among the areas of utilization will be an industry-first use in luggage-trim upholstery. Other areas are the cowl-side trim, door scuff plate, tool box area, floor-finish plate, seat cushions, and the package tray behind the rear seats. Overall, approximately 30-percent of the interior and luggage area is covered with ecological plastic. Over the estimated lifecycle of the vehicle, the HS 250h will have approximately 20-percent fewer carbon-dioxide emissions as a result of utilizing the Ecological Plastic trim pieces.
The HS 250h chassis design provides an outstanding ride and comfort with the decreased NVH required by a Lexus hybrid. The MacPherson strut front suspension is designed to achieve both straight-line and braking control, and a positive steering feel. A double-wishbone rear suspension provides excellent maneuverability, control and comfort with a low spring mount that contributes to better packaging and superior cargo space. Coil springs, anti-roll bars and shock-absorber rebound springs are utilized front and rear. The HS 250h will have uniquely designed standard 17- and optional 18-inch wheels.
The rack-and-pinion steering system utilizes a brushless Electric Power Steering (EPS) motor on the steering column, which provides improved steering feel, a reduction in harsh feedback, and better emissions by not draining engine power like conventional hydraulic systems.
Another key element of the modern interior is Lexus’ new available Hard Disk Drive (HDD) Navigation System, which features a retractable navigation screen that is positioned well back and up front in the dash. The positioning helps improve visibility and reduce driver eye movement. Similar to the new RX, the HS system features the all-new "Remote Touch" controller that is both intuitive and ergonomic and allows for easy use of the Navigation System. The controller is positioned on the center console and is as natural to the driver’s hand as a computer mouse. It can also be customized to the desired level of haptic feedback.
The Navigation System also includes a new casual-speech voice recognition feature. This allows drivers to give more flexible, conversational commands for easier access and control of the audio, climate and navigation functions. Also included are XM NavTraffic and NavWeather, along with XM Sports and Stock information.
A class-leading 10 airbags will be standard on the all-new HS 250h as well as active front head rests, which help passengers in case of certain types of rear-end accidents. The HS also will feature Lexus’ Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) system and optional Pre-Collision System with Dynamic Radar Cruise Control.
An available wide-view front monitor helps the driver to check hard-to-see areas. Using a camera mounted in the front grille, the monitor provides a 190-degree front view on the Navigation screen with the push of a button on the steering wheel.
The HS 250h will also offer Lexus’ next generation telematics systems, Lexus Enform and Safety Connect. Safety Connect will provide automatic collision notification, stolen vehicle location, 24/7 emergency and roadside assistance.
The all-new 2010 HS 250h will reach dealerships nationwide in late summer.
Originally posted on Green Fleet Magazine