2011 Lexus CT 200h – Click above for high-res image gallery

Lexus is pinning rather high the expectations on its new CT 200h, billed as "The Darker Side of Green." According to Brian Bolain, the automaker's national advertising and marketing manager, Lexus expects to sell about 1,000 CTs here in the U.S. each month. We wish them the best of luck, but have some serious reservations.

Consider that the combined sales of the BMW 1 Series, Audi A3 and Volvo C30 (which represent the vehicles most likely to be cross-shopped with the CT) tally up about 1,500 sales per month, according to Ward's Automotive. For what it's worth, the 1 Series, which is the only non-dedicated hatchback and easily the sportiest of the bunch, makes up the vast majority of the segment's sales.

As you're surely aware, the CT 200h is indeed a dedicated hatchback and it offers up a comparatively paltry 98 horsepower from its Prius-derived Atkinson-cycle 1.8-liter four-cylinder, aided by another 36 ponies from its two electric motors and 28 NiMH batteries. As we said in our First Drive of the CT, that power level, particularly when coupled to a continuously variable automatic transmission, doesn't exactly incite driving excitement.

Also factor in the sales flop that is the dedicated-hybrid Lexus HS 250h, a model whose yearly sales will struggle to hit half the 20,000 units Lexus had counted on, and you can see why we're a tad skeptical that Toyota's luxury division will manage to move a thousand CTs per calendar flip. In any case, we figure the CT is at least as attractive as the HS, and we look forward to spending some quality time with the hybrid hatchback in day-to-day driving scenarios where it should become much more clear how the machine stacks up against its competitors.

What do you think, will the CT 200h be a hit in America? Have your say in Comments.

Photos copyright ©2010 Damon Lavrinc / AOL

[Source: Ward's Automotive]

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