One for the irony file: Lexus Low-Mileage Hybrid

Isaac Mostovicz writes...

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This week Toyota announced a new luxury performance sedan, the Lexus LS600h L. At $104,000, it’s the most expensive car ever offered by the company. Decked out in leather and high-tech amenities, the car goes from zero to 60 miles per hour in 5.5 seconds and has 438 horsepower. It’s also “green”—its hybrid gasoline-electric engine gets it better gas mileage than a gasoline engine alone.

But is it really the perfect car for the rich but environmentally-conscious consumer? I can’t say I think so.

I don’t want to go so far as to call putting a hybrid engine into the car a gimmick, as it’s surely a well-engineered, luxurious vehicle (and admittedly it does emit less pollution), but the car only gets 20 miles per gallon in city driving. That’s less than many non-hybrid sedans and only a third of the city mileage that Toyota’s first hybrid, the Prius, gets. The Prius is also a quarter of the LS600h’s cost.

You don’t exactly scream environmentally-friendly when you’re using more petrol than many non-hybrid cars. Are consumers wealthy enough to spend six figures on a car are concerned about this? For now it’s unclear, but car makers and other luxury businesses are increasingly offering green choices.

The fruits of green technology should themselves be green, but this Lexus isn’t (or at least isn’t as green as it could be). As consumers become more aware and discerning of green choices, they may want a car with four times the gas mileage of the Prius if they’re spending four times as much.

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