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Compact hybrid set to double Lexus sales

Date: 19 November 2010   |   Author: Guy Bird

The Lexus CT 200h

Lexus expects its world-first premium compact hybrid CT200h to double its annual UK sales in its first full year, with 40% going to business buyers.

The petrol/electric car - set to take on upmarket diesels such as the BMW 118d to the Audi A3 TDI - is predicted to sell 4500 units in the nine months after its March 2011 launch and then some 6000 in 2012.

Total Lexus registrations are set to languish at around 6800 by the end of 2010 - considerably down on its 15,000 high back in 2007 - but with the new CT200h the brand hopes to get back to a more controlled 12,000-13,000 units as UK brand manager Paul Vecchione told BusinessCar: "We've done those numbers before with the IS, so the infrastructure is in place. But our network is designed more for 12,000 sales per annum. There was an element of 'supply push' the last time."

The key selling point for fleets will be the UK version's 96g/km CO2 rating and 68.9mpg. As a petrol/electric unit it also avoids the 3% diesel BIK penalty of its closest rivals, leading to an ongoing 10% BIK tax band, zero VED and London congestion charge exemption. The CT200h launches with only a 1.8-litre full-hybrid model mated to a CVT automatic gearbox, but a plug-in hybrid, a bigger engine and a manual gearbox option could all follow in time.

Vecchione also said the new BMW 3-series-rivalling IS range due in late 2012 "is a good bet to be 100% hybrid in the UK", signalling the end of Lexus's dalliance with diesel engine technology in Britain and making the line-up exclusively hybrid for the first time. VAT-adjusted prices at 20% start at £23,485 for the SE-I (expected to take 60% of sales), rising to £25,200 for the SE-L and £30,635 for the SE-L Premier.

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