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Hybrid trumps diesel for fleets, says Lexus

As the carmaker rolls out its third-generation IS, a petrol-electric hybrid joins the  range for the first time. The diesel was dropped from the outgoing model a year ago.

Richard Balshaw, director of Lexus GB, said: ‘Why hybrid? We say, “Why diesel?” We believe there are far more benefits from the hybrid set-up. For one thing there is the smoother power delivery of a petrol engine along with lower noise, vibration and harshness. If you look at long-term legislation, this powertrain already meets future requirements not just on CO2 but also NoX (nitrous oxide) and particulates which are far greater in diesels.

‘There are also considerable BiK considerations for the company car market with a CO2 figure of 99g/km for the hybrid meaning savings on road fund licence, congestion charges and general running costs.’

Could Lexus cave in some time in the future and bring IN a diesel? Particularly as parent company Toyota has a deal with German premium brand BMW to supply them.

‘No,’ said Balshaw. ‘Lexus has made a strategic decision to go down the hybrid route and not have diesels. That sets us apart from everyone else and it also means that across the range we have the lowest CO2 emissions in the premium segment.’

The petrol-electric hybrid uses a 2.5-litre, four-cylinder engine with a claimed combined fuel economy figure of 65.7mpg. The second model is a 2.5-litre six-cylinder petrol. Prices start at £26,495 for the IS 250 V6 while the hybrid IS 300 kicks off at £29,495.

As well as no diesel, Balshaw said there will be no estate version either. ‘Definitely no plans for that although other possibilities are being looked at – maybe a coupe or convertible.’

The brand plans to sell around 3,000 IS models this year in the UK and 5,000 annually from 2014 – accounting for almost 30% of all Lexus sales here.

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.