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Lexus F performance models could go hybrid electric

It was just a few decades ago when mass-produced electrified vehicles and hybrid powertrains were a fantasy because the technology wasn’t quite there yet and gasoline remained cheap. Fast forward a decade, and Toyota proved that hybrids are possible for the everyday driver, beginning with the Prius in 1997.

But this occured at the expense of hybrid and electrification’s reputation since they were mostly marketed with cost and fuel-saving in mind, not performance. But, it wasn’t until a company like Tesla proved that electrification could be used for performance, while others also proved the same concept with hybrid powertrains.

Now, Lexus wants to further prove that hybrids can be performance cars by introducing electric-gas hybrid powertrains to its “F” performance cars. It’s the subdivision that brings us cars like the hot RC F, GS F, and previously, the IS F.

Speaking with Yoshihiro Sawa, president of the F performance brand, at the Goodwood Festival of Speed recently, AutoExpress learned that there could be a potential hybrid grand-tourer on the way. It’s all part of a push to try and position Lexus as a true rival to the German luxury giants, both from a performance aspect, and even in motorsports.

“One solution could be a pure F GT car, which could be a hybrid with an electric motor and a strong engine, giving a different kind of drive feel,” Sawa told AutoExpress “We don’t stick to V8, V10, twin-turbocharged; they’re important but we’re looking at the future. We’d like to find a way to connect to the next era.”

While Lexus does offer hybrid powertrains for cars like its popular selling RX crossover, the ES sedan, the LS sedan, and even the LC 500h, all of Lexus F’s to date are powered by naturally aspirated gas V8s.

The company has already proven that hybrids can be fast, specifically with some earlier versions of the GS 450h sedan. Although it only got a gasoline V6 with assistance from an electric motor, it was the quickest model out of the entire GS range — much faster than the base V6 model and even the range-topping V8 model.

Another reason why Lexus F plans to go with hybridization instead of full-electric is because the company recognizes that driving enthusiasts who buy its F models like the sounds and dynamics of traditional gasoline power.

“We do think about it,” Sawa continued, “but Akio Toyoda (Toyota’s president) wants to provide the freedom of mobility everywhere – not just in the city but also in the jungle, or the desert. We can look to EV but also hybrid, plug-in hybrid, fuel cell, and normal petrol engines also. We will introduce an EV but on top of that we’re searching to decide which kind of EV will be lovable. It needs to have a luxury feeling, too, because that is expected by our customers.”

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Chris Chin
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