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Rumors that a Lexus might bring a premium hatchback model to North America have been swirling since the automaker first introduced us to the LF-Ch concept at the Frankfurt Auto Show a few months back. Toyota’s luxury arm then stoked those flames by announcing that the premium hybrid hatchback concept would be shown at the Los Angeles Auto Show next week.
Now a company exec has confirmed Lexus is using this showing, as well as one a month later at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, to gauge the public’s interest.
In an interview with TheDetroitBureu, Lexus General Manager Mark Templin said that if response is favorable, then a production model could see dealerships by as early as 2012. A model based on the LF-Ch is already confirmed for European Lexus dealerships for 2011.
Templin also said that while the car would be premium and come with plenty of high-tech goodies, it would not be cheap. He pointed to a more European-style buyer that is emerging in North America, that doesn’t necessarily equate luxury with size. He even said that in the future Lexus would look at even smaller luxury cars, but ones priced beyond the ES or IS.
Word hat the LF-Ch would become a production reality in the U.S. first emerged when it was confirmed that Lexus has registered the CT200h name – which presumably stands for a compact touring (read wagon or hatchback) model with roughly 200-hp and a hybrid setup . Surprisingly, however, Templin said that despite the focus on a hybrid model, it is likely the car would launch with a conventional gasoline engine.
GALLERY: Lexus LF-Ch Concept
City MPG to be better than Smart micro-car
Lexus unveiled to the press a dedicated hybrid vehicle the HS250h – an entry level luxury hybrid that the company says will get better city fuel milage than the Smart micro-car.
Even more impressive is that it will operate on regular 87 octane gas. Lexus VP Mark Templin couldn’t help but use the opportunity to stick it to the Germans by pointing out how much cheaper 87 octane is than diesel.
The HS250h uses a hybrid powertain with a 2.4 liter engine that produces 187hp.
Lexus has built the HS250h in response to customer demand. According to its research 60 percent of entry level luxury buys would have considered a hybrid if one had been available.
One particularly neat feature is that the on-board LCD screen can show a 180 degree picture of what is ahead of the car – perfect for navigating in tight urban areas.This device has been adapted from the Lexus flagship SUV, the LX570.
The HS250h will come with the new Enform system, wich operates much like GM’s OnStar and even features a stolen vehicle locator.
The HS250h will go on sale this summer.
Lexus also announced that the HS250h is the first of 10 new hybrids Toyota will unveil in the next few years.
Official release after the jump: