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By Mark Kleis

Lexus, Toyota's luxury division, made an important announcement from Japan today that the luxury brand will begin to introduce a hybrid version of every existing model with their next respective full model refresh.

As Toyota and Lexus both look to repair their image following the multi-million vehicle recalls of earlier this year, Lexus has vowed to make changes that will on one hand help to make the brand more competitive with BMW and Mercedes-Benz in terms of sport appeal, and on the other hand to help differentiate the brand as having a unique appeal.

To achieve this, Kiyotaka Ise, Toyota's managing officer in charge of Lexus development, told Automotive News that Lexus will start to more heavily utilize hybrid technology across its model lineup in order to give the luxury brand a unique advantage over its German rivals. "We want to introduce it [a hybrid option] with each new model change," said Ise. "Compared to Mercedes or BMW, hybrid technology is a key application in the Lexus. That's the most easily understood difference in the brands."

Seemingly opposing Lexus' pledge to turn heavily to hybrid technology in the future, the brand also seeks to move away from the image of being purely about ride comfort and luxury, and more about driver appeal through the addition of more sport-minded characteristics. "Until now, Lexus has been about calm, stable luxury," Ise told Automotive News. "From now on it will be more about agility and response, really feeling the braking and acceleration."

Ise went on to explain that they will achieve this image transformation by tweaking vehicle powertrains and suspension configurations to appeal to drivers seeking a sportier feel.



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