Hybrid Lexus models may finally be worth the price premium.
Luxury automaker Lexus and parent company Toyota were among the first companies to bring hybrid cars mainstream. Even though Lexus has a ton of experience building hybrid models, we haven't been completely enamored by some of the brand's hybrid offerings. When we tested the RX450h, we could easily see why it is the best selling luxury model in the US, but we couldn't justify the $10,000 premium commanded by the hybrid model. According to Automotive News, Lexus will make some changes to its prices that could change our opinion.
It appears that our skepticism about the hybrid price premiums was well founded. Some hybrid Lexus models were too expensive compared to their gas engine counterparts, which alienated potential buyers. With gas prices being as low as they are right now, it would take many years to pay off the hybrid premium on certain Lexus models. Jeff Bracken, general manager for Lexus, said that "By pricing our hybrids much, much closer to the gas models so the premium is $1,000 or $1,500, that will allow us to increase our hybrid mix and allow us to move closer and comply with CAFE regulations."
Certain models still have large price premiums, but others will have their hybrid premiums significantly lowered. For example, the NX and RX hybrids now cost just $950 and $1,025 more respectively than their gas engine counterparts for 2018. These premiums were $3,035 and $5,820 in 2017. Michael Moore, senior manager for Lexus product marketing, said that "The number one focus was we want to make this powertrain available to more people and with this new strategy, we think we will be able to accomplish that." In the past, hybrid models offered addition features compared to base gas engine models, but hybrid versions will now be more comparable to normal base models.
We comend this decision by Lexus. With the new pricing strategy, buyers are choosing between the drivetrain rather than a set of available/standard features. This should create new customers for hybrid Lexus models.