When I (an American) think about the Lexus brand, the first thing that comes to mind is not its hybrid option. In Europe, it seems Lexus and hybrid are synonymous because a Lexus official told the BBC, "Hybrid is Lexus brand defining technology." We have written about the increasing Lexus hybrid sales in Europe over the years and even the shocker that hybrid Lexus vehicles were outselling the gas versions 4-to-1 in Europe. Sainsbury's chief executive, Justin King, gave up his Maserati Quattroporte for a hybrid Lexus. Overall, though, Europeans still love diesel and aren't big fans of hybrids. Also, and you might find this hard to believe (he wrote sarcastically) but Europe already has one (or two?) luxury car brands.

So, why is the Lexus hybrid doing well in Europe when hybrids and even Lexus is not doing well? Complete lack of competition! "Only Lexus has hybrid, and we have three while others have yet to launch one" the Lexus company official said. Lexus was the only hybrid we could recommend to Yoko Ono when she lamented the lack of a comfortable hybrid because, as the BBC notes, Audi, BMW and Mercedes don't currently sell a hybrid.

So, word to GM and Ford (two companies apprehensive about hybrids in Europe), here's how you get hybrids to work in Europe: make them high-end. Diesel is "a more honest technology" than the hybrid system, said BMW's outgoing sales and marketing director, Stefan Krause. Still, we'd rather see a hybrid BMW on the sales lot than more concepts.



[Source: BBC News]

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