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Lexus RX 400h and 450h

Since luxury cars and SUVs have bigger profit margins, why don’t the automakers get started with these segments? They can charge a premium on top of the premiums they are already charging for a hybrid system. Even an increase of 20% in fuel economy would make a huge difference, and in cars which only are getting city/hwy average of 18MPG this would mean making the milage around 22mpg, only an increase of 4 MPG. This can easily be done in suvs/luxury cars, while improving performance for an added cost of $4000, probably much less done on a large scale. Better performance, better fuel economy, and better image, people are willing to pay a premium for, especially those who purchase premium products.

A 10 % overall increase in fuel economy would make a dramatic difference in our dependence of foreign oil, I believe it would also make a big difference in air quality and in the environment overall.

Why are automakers focusing on squeezing expensive systems into economy cars when the profit margins on economy cars is already low, and the people who purchase economy cars are on a tight budget? Why? Because they can, because people still buy underperforming, overpolluting cars, and they must leave room for improvement in the future, without new products and constant slight innovation, people won’t buy new cars. When people stop buying new cars they will realize that people are waiting for something new, and they will slowly leak new products. That IS what is happening NOW. Although "they" are ignoring the pleas for some reason. The population has heard that these new cars are on the horizon, so people are waiting, if not consciously, then unconsciously waiting, just a little bit longer to make a new car purchase to see what is around the corner. People aren’t stupid and that’s what is going on, that is why sales are down and the automakers have to give crazy incentives (GM averaging $4000+ per car.) HMMMM why not make hybrid systems and sell cars without the incentives, because people will buy them if they are a better product.

The automakers say higher fuel regulations will make cars too expensive, that is because they are being paid off by oil companies.

OK well that’s way more than enough. What do you think?
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Comments

  • The Lexus RX330 SUV will have an AWD hybrid version
    (with the Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive) coming out
    next year (2004). Toyota is supposed to come out
    with the Highlander cousin shortly afterwards.

    Ford has been pushing back the release date on the
    hybrid Ford Escape SUV, but they're claiming summer
    of 2004 also.

    Hey, the automakers have to start somewhere...
  • I think I spelled that word wrong but u know what I mean. U must admit (if u've been paying attention to this technology) that some invisible force has been slowing the release of the technology. ..from my viewpoint this should be an undenyable fact....and it's not consumer choice, because hybrid is better for economy and performance
  • Looks like GM is taking the logical approach I just read an article that thier first hybrids are going to be the biggest heavy trucks/suvs because that will be the most economical and best for the environment and dependence on foreign oil. WELL thanks for throwing us that bone GM, but WHY do we have to wait til 2007? Are American manufactures that behind? I'd like to believe not and instead believe that ur taking payoffs
  • jchan2jchan2 Posts: 4,956
    Detroit is lazy. Tokyo is not. The second generation Prius is out and on the road, and GM is still having to make excuses about why there hasn't even been a 1st generation Hybrid from them.
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 10,837
    That's a bit of an unfair comment, jchan. Conversely, one could claim that Tokyo is lazy because Japan hasn't produced real competitors in the big truck market.

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  • jchan2jchan2 Posts: 4,956
    I guess we could agree that Detroit, Tokyo and Seoul have different priorities when it comes to which cars to sell.
  • Its obvious that Detroit companies have oil interests, why are they so against the CAFE standards, fuel cells promise for the future is all about downplaying the importance of currently available technology.
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 10,837
    That's a pretty big claim. Couldn't it be that innovation and re-tooling are expensive, and they won't/can't spend the money it takes?

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  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 10,837
    image

    Lexus 400h on display at the auto show. They wouldn't let us get any closer!

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  • lok888lok888 Posts: 1,753
    It looks the only different (exterior) is the foglights location when compared to RX330. Anyone know the production date, pricing and specification? I read something about the V8 hybird engine with 270 hp.
  • jchan2jchan2 Posts: 4,956
    V8 power made with a V6 mated to a hybrid.
  • Talked to my local dealer and he said the vehicle should be out around October. They are accepting a deposit for preorder. He said if I do I'll be #8 on the list. No MSRP is announced yet but he said it should be around 45-46 grand. I'll wait and see as more information is given.

    Right now there's really not much information out, other than it'll combine the current RX engine and an electrical one. The RX engine will power the front wheels and the other one will power the rear. 400 denotes to an equivalent of a 4.0 engine with 270 combined horsepower. Fuel economy is sketchy now, with rumors from 28mpg to 600 miles per tank.

    The thing that concerns me is reliability. I know Toyota has 2 Prius but this will be a first hybrid SUV with substantial more horsepower. It has to withstand the abuse in a SUV. It is a very sophisticated system and no one knows how long it'll last. Granted, if you want one car company to start it, you want it to be Lexus. But right now I might just wait a bit and see, and maybe let them work out the problems with the early models. Another dealer has advised me to lease a current RX and wait a couple years before I get the new hybrid. Sounds like a safer bet to me.
  • wco81wco81 Posts: 495
    That is why they resisted CAFE, because they want to be able to keep producing bigger and bigger SUVs, which are their cash cows. Some say if it were not for SUVs, Detroit may not have made money in the last decade.

    So of course they can deal with the margins on bigger cars by putting hybrid systems on an already expensive vehicle, slipping in that extra high price option. And if big truck buyers resist paying extra for a hybrid truck, they can say, "See, people don't want to pay extra."

    It's easy to be harsh on Detroit, given what happened in the '70s and '80s. But with booming SUV and truck/van sales, these Detroit executives think car buyers are telling them that fuel economy and emissions is secondary to comfort and feelings of safety in a big car. Plus, most of the auto executives at the American car companies weren't around probably in the '70s and '90s when Detroit was caught surprised by American's desire for more fuel-efficient and reliable cars offered by Japanese imports.
  • lok888lok888 Posts: 1,753
    thebest2003 - Your sales rep probably want to buy the RX330 right now and tell you it will take forever to the RX400h. Of course, many try to avoid first year model. I agree with the cost of $4000 to $5000 more than the RX330. It is like price different between the Prius and Corolla or many compact sedans. But I still want to see even better gas mileage on RX400h.
  • I drove a 330 yest--asked the dealer about the 400h. He said it will come out by Oct at the latest and be $3000 more than the current 330. Options, etc essentially the same. Said there are 10 deposits at his dealership for them so far. I certianly got no pressure to buy a 330 now, or to wait or whatnot.
  • mfullmermfullmer Posts: 819
    You have to love the lack of logic (not to mention short sightedness) of these conspiracy theories. Are people that ignorant that they'll say anything to make them feel worse about America? The auto manufacturers - Foreign & Domestic - are in business for one reason, to sell cars at the highest profit.

    I think it interesting that no one blamed the European market of being "Paid off" by the oil companies. Where are their hybrid cars, hmmm?

    The simple fact is people that look at large, American SUVs are not all that concerned with fuel economy/emmissions. I know I wouldn't trade in my 5.3L gasoline Tahoe for a hybrid.
  • "The simple fact is people that look at large, American SUVs are not all that concerned with fuel economy/emmissions. I know I wouldn't trade in my 5.3L gasoline Tahoe for a hybrid".

    Who's asking you to anyway? But there are plenty of people who are willing to pay 45 grand for a mid size SUV that generates 270 Hp, gets 30+ mpg and at the same time do something good for the planet. If you like inhaling sulfur dioxide and carbon monoxide that is up to you, but I sure wouldn't mind driving a cleaner burning car that is also powerful at the same time.
  • nickg5nickg5 Posts: 16
    well $45-47k is pricey but then again one pays for the Lexus reliability and marque. If one(includign myself to a certain extend) has concern about the electric motor getting a beating lease the vehicle for 3 years and turn it over. Lexus has superb cust service/customer satisfaction.

    Cheers

    Nick
  • I own a 2001 RX with Nav and love it. We also have a 2001 GS 300 with nav/levinson system and love that one too!! We had 2 ES 300s and will continue with Lexus for the service is incredible. My wife wants a 400h and I'll seriously consider it if the mileage and price are worth it. If the premium is too high and the mileage not a great improvement, then I may get a 330. A $4K premium buys a lot of fuel. Anyone care to comment?
  • mytythor,

    I would like to know how you got the 4k number. Anyhow, fuel economy isn't the only benefit of HSD. You will also get an ECVT transmission which has virtually infinite amount of gears. You will always be in top gear without any up or down shift lag. You will also get dead silence quietness at the stop lights.

    Push start button and Smart Entry will be extra convenient features. The heater will deliver heat faster from a cold start. You will also get a touch screen control for climate control.

    There will also be more space in the front; more leg room due to compact hybrid packaging and removal of the gear box. You will not fall asleep during traffic congestion also. :)

    I assumed all those Prius features will make it to 400h. Most of them are benefits by HSD design.
  • lok888lok888 Posts: 1,753
    I like the idea of hybrid cars with better clean air. And I also want to know how much you get for $4K premium. I looked at the '04 Honda Civic as an example. The price different is about $4K+ between the Hybrid and non-Hybrid. The Hybrid gets 10 more mpg in both city and highway. The non-hybrid spends $200+ on gas per year than the hybrid. In fact, the Edmunds showed the Civic Hybrid costs more to own like $28K over the 5 years period and the non-Hybrid is $25K. I like the idea of the V8 engine, 270 hp, better gas mileage and clear air. But the gas mileage must be better the 30+ mpg. What do you guys think? Just interesting to see which one will you pick. Is it the RX400h with more horsepower or the RX330 for $4000 less.
  • The federal government provides a tax credit for qualifying electric vehicles (electric only with four or more wheels) of 10 percent of the cost of a qualifying electric vehicle. Hybrid vehicles do not qualify for the qualified electric vehicle tax credit. The tax credit for qualifying electric vehicles is a dollar-for-dollar credit against federal taxes owed.

    "Clean-Fuel Vehicle"(HYBRID) Adjustment to Gross Income
    If you purchase a hybrid electric vehicle (gasoline-electricity) or another qualifying alternative fuel, you likely qualify for a "clean-fuel vehicle" adjustment to gross income. Qualifying alternative fuel vehicles use biodiesel, compressed natural gas (CNG), ethanol, liquified natural gas (LNG), methanol, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG or propane), dedicated (100 percent) electric, hythane or hydrogen.

    Internal Revenue Service (IRS) instructions show that electric hybrids (Toyota Prius™, Honda Insight™ or Honda Civic™ Hybrid) qualify as "clean-fuel vehicles." Vehicles bought in 2001, 2002, or 2003 are eligible for an adjustment to gross income of $2,000. The deduction amount decreases by $500 each year following until it is phased out. IRS publication 535, "Business Expenses," (page 48-50) details this deduction. Chapter 12 states that you may claim this "clean-fuel vehicle" income adjustment even if it is not used in a trade or business.

    As an individual, you claim this deduction by placing $2,000 (or appropriate deduction amount) on line 34 of your federal 1040 tax filing form. To qualify, you must indicate "clean-fuel" on the dotted line to the left of any deduction cost entry you place on line 34 of the 1040 form. Keep in mind that line 34 is the sum of adjustments to the Adjusted Gross Income line so you must add the "clean-fuel vehicle" amount to any other adjustments to gross income you have for the sum amount to be correct. This adjustment may be claimed on your tax filing for the year in which you purchase the vehicle. You may have to amend back taxes to claim this adjustment. Consult your accountant / tax preparer.
  • mfullmermfullmer Posts: 819
    If the deduction ($2,000) is an adjustment to your Adjusted Gross Income then the adjustment itself is NOT the savings.

    I just worked up a scenario with a (pre deduction) AGI of $50,000. After the $2k adjustment was used, taking the AGI to $48,000 the tax liability only changed $300.

    For those people who are weighing the extra cost, $300 isn't all that much.

    Jees, that reminded me of a client I had who wanted to mortgage his house because he wanted to save on his taxes. I had to explain and explain to him that he wasn't going to SAVE money doing that!
  • wco81wco81 Posts: 495
    Some states allow hybrids in commuter lanes.

    Out here in CA (where hybrids aren't allowed on commuter lanes), we have smog test every two years. With the lower emissions, are hybrids likely to pass the smog tests for a longer period of time?

    Or maybe CA, which is big on reducing emissions, should exempt hybrids or require smog tests every 3 or 4 years instead of every two.
  • My good friend is a Lexus fleet manager and I got the $4K premium from him. I agree with mfullmer, the $2000 is only a deduction, not a true cost reduction and is only good this year. In 2005 it drops to $1500. I don't live in an area with much traffic congestion and the fast start heater here in Florida is of limited value. My 2001 RX has more than enough up front space/legroom and the new 330 that I test drove is even better. The Smart Entry is on other cars that aren't hybrids so it isn't an exclusive feature. I do like the idea of the quietness, smooth ECT transmission, but question the cost /benefit if there isn't a substantial increase in gas mileage.I have touch screen climate control on my GS300 and like it, but the my RX with Nav is more than adequate.
  • I forgot to mention about the emission. In my opinion, USA will be slow to catch up with Europe and Japan as long as Bush administration is in power. Prius can pass European emission standard scheduled for 2012. To go before, 8 years ahead.

    Another thing I forgot to mention is the hybrid reliability. Overall, Hybrid Synergy Drive (HSD) drive train is more complex than traditional Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) drive train due to two power sources. BUT, mechanically, HSD is simpler. The complexity of HSD is moved to electrical and transistor level. Four 32-bit processors manage the energy flows between the ICE and the battery. Load-balancing between two power sources reduces stress on each source by half. Electronic motors and computer processors are generally more reliable than mechanical parts. Therefore, HSD will be more reliable by design.

    HSD cars also have better weight distribution. Internal Combustion Engine is in the front and the battery is in the back.

    Not all hybrids were created equal. I don't believe mild/parallel hybrid is worth the premium cost for most people right now. Toyota HSD is a full hybrid. It is actually a serial parallel hybrid. It has advantages of both worlds. Toyota can explain better than me about it here. http://www.toyota.co.jp/en/tech/environment/ths2/what.html

    As far as I know, we don't know for sure how much extra premium Toyota/Lexus is going to charge for the Hybrid version. But I can tell you the following benefits by design:

    Total silent at the stop light. Priceless.
    Instantaneous power delivery. Priceless.
    V8 power with I4 fuel economy. Priceless.
    A decade ahead of emission standard. Priceless.

    Dennis
  • > I don't live in an area with much traffic congestion and the fast start heater here in Florida is of limited value.

    Points well taken.

    > The Smart Entry is on other cars that aren't hybrids so it isn't an exclusive feature.

    But we are comparing RX330 and 400h with assumption of $4k difference. BTW, I am only guessing that it will most likely be available for 400h. Maybe your good friend can fill in with which features come with $4k extra.

    > I have touch screen climate control on my GS300 and like it, but the my RX with Nav is more than adequate

    Comparing RX300 to 400h, wouldn't you rather prefer touch screen climate control and Nav?

    Dennis
  • mfullmermfullmer Posts: 819
    I was only able to find one state - Virginia - who currently allows Hybrids to be in the HOV lanes with only one person. Even that is expiring on July 1, 2006 and there has been a big push to NOT extend it past that date.

    Even on the National level every attempt to exempt the Hybrid has been shot down.
  • lok888lok888 Posts: 1,753
    When we look at the Honda Civic hybrid and Toyota Prius, we can be sure that the $4K premium will be the target price for RX400h when compare with RX330. I am so glad to see the most remarkable features on these hybrid cars like super ultra low emission, quite operation, powerful advanced drivetrain or even car pool lane use.

    On the other hand, we should look at the cost to buy and true cost to own for these vehicles. We probably need to do some math to see how many miles we need to drive or how long it will pay for itself. I looked at the Prius discussion. The demand for the '04 Prius is very high. Some dealers are charging over the MSRP. I talked to my Toyota dealer. They told there is a usual 7 to 12 months wait for the Prius.

    No wonder the demand is high for the Prius when we look at the gas mileage of 60 mpg and the nearly $1.7+ per gallon of regular. Good thing about these hybrid cars are using regular fuel. I don't know if RX400h needs premium fuel like RX330.
  • I'm sure there will be a waiting list for the 400h which will justify the premium and a price above MSRP. My wife doens't like buying a new car to begin with although our 2001 RX was bought new because of the Nav. Her 2001 GS was bought from my friend who is a fleet manager(his wife's car)at a substantial discount from what the usual customer would pay. If there is going to be a substantial premium and above MSRP, my wife will opt to keep the 2001 RX and wait for a 400h on the used car market. We still feel that the cost/benefit has to be there. We bought 3 of our 4 Lexus that were used 1 year or less with low mileage.
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