Lexus to launch hybrid sedan in Japan, Europe

DETROIT, Michigan (AFP) - Toyota launched a new hybrid version of its IS luxury Lexus sedan at the Detroit auto show on Tuesday, but it will only be available in showrooms in Japan and Europe.

"If there's a lot of consumer demand here in the United States (US) we can bring it here," said Mr Mark Templin, general manager of Lexus.

Since Lexus already has two hybrid offerings in the US - the ES sedan and LS sport utility vehicle - it has made the decision to market the IS as a "performance" sedan, Mr Templin said.

"We're obsessed with design now and we think this car reflects this," Mr Templin told reporters after the unveiling.

"We think young consumers entering the luxury marketplace are going to love this product both from a design standpoint, the interiors, the advanced electronics and safety system and its driving dynamics are unbelievable - it's just so much fun to drive."

Introducing a hybrid in Europe will help Lexus compete on fuel economy with the diesel offerings of its rivals.

The new IS hybrid also controls emissions sufficiently to avoid onerous European taxes by coming in at fewer than 100 grams of carbon per kilometre, he added.

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