15 years of Lexus hybrid technology

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Lexus is celebrating 15 years since launching the RX 400h in the UK, paving the way for future hybrid models. The luxury hybrid vehicle was unveiled in May 2004, and went on sale in the UK in June 2005. Now, hybrids account for 99.7% of the Japanese auto maker’s new car sales in the UK.

Lexus’s hybrid range has increased, and the performance of its technology has been continuously improved. Lexus Hybrid Drive is in its fourth generation, and has extended the distances covered in all-electric EV mode with zero fuel consumption and emissions.

When introducing the first RX 400h in 2004, chief engineer Osamu Sadakata said Toyota Motor Corporation was committed to leading environmental performance, improving conventional engines and using alternative fuels.

“Currently the issue is all about how to use gasoline as efficiently as possible, allied to the greater horsepower you can achieve. This is what is behind the fun-to-drive aspect of the RX 400h,” he said.

At the time, Sadakata was looking to the future, viewing hybrid as the starting point.

“There is another technology – the fuel cell. It’s not that we’re dividing these two technological fields, it’s merely that fuel cell technology is so complex that we see hybrid drive systems as the essential first step to its successful development.”

The fourth-generation Lexus RX comes with a 3.5-liter V6 gasoline engine and electric motor with a combined power output of 308bhp. The electric motor on the RX 450h is an AC permanent magnet, synchronous motor and the hybrid battery is a nickel metal-hydride.

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