The Lexus GS 450h, seen here at the New York International Auto Show, does 0-60 mph in under six seconds.
msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 3/25/2005 11:25:08 AM ET 2005-03-25T16:25:08

Lexus this week unveiled what it described as a "ground-breaking" hybrid electric-gasoline luxury sport sedan at the 2005 New York International Auto Show.

The 2007 Lexus GS 450h, which will go on sale in the United States in the spring of 2006, is "the world's first hybrid luxury sedan and the first full hybrid vehicle with a front engine and rear wheel drive," Lexus, a division of Toyota, said in a statement.

Fuel economy will be "in the high twenties" and emissions will be among the lowest of any hybrid, Lexus said. The gas-only 430 sibling, in contrast, gets a combined fuel economy rating of 21 mpg and slightly higher emissions.

Output from the 450h engine and electric motor will exceed 300 horsepower and torque from the electric motor means 0-60 mph in just under six seconds, Lexus added.

A price hasn't been set, but hybrids generally cost several thousand dollars more than their gas-only relatives.

The Lexus GS 450h uses Toyota's "Hybrid Synergy Drive," housed under the hood, to link its electric motor to the gasoline engine.
Lexus Vice President Mark Templin said the 450h proves that hybrid technology can both improve mileage while adding horsepower. "It's very important to continue pursuing substantial reductions in fuel consumption and emissions, while continuing to improve performance and driving pleasure," Templin said in the statement.

Lexus said a new hybrid powertrain was created to combine the 450h's 3.5-liter V6 engine with an electric motor. That combo, Lexus said, "is a level of acceleration performance similar to a V-8 engine."

"The system's massive electric motor is capable of delivering maximum torque, immediately upon demand." Lexus added. "This unique power delivery characteristic is most noticeable — and most useful — during 30-to-50 (mph) passing and merging maneuvers. It is an experience that must be felt to be fully appreciated."

The Lexus GS 450h instrument panel retains a traditional look but gone is the tachometer and in its place, at left, is a horsepower gauge.
Lexus said the 450h will become the premium model within its GS luxury sport sedan series.

Most of the changes are under the hood, with only a few changes on the outside. Among those are a new power meter that replaces the tachometer, and a "GS 450h" plate at the back of the vehicle that identifies it as a hybrid.

Toyota will have four types of hybrid vehicles on the market in 2006 and hopes to sell 170,000-180,000 units annually. The four are the Prius sedan, the Lexus 400h SUV, the Highlander hybrid and the Lexus 450h.

Honda follows with three hybrids, the two-door Insight and hybrid versions of the Civic and Accord.

Ford has a hybrid version of its Escape SUV and has plans for other models.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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