Lexus will bring a plug-in hybrid version of its new RX SUV to Australia… but exactly when isn’t clear.
The RX450h+ plug-in hybrid (PHEV) was revealed with the rest of the range in June 2022, and is currently offered in overseas markets such as the USA. It isn’t part of the launch range for Australia, however.
“We will be getting the PHEV RX in Australia. For us at the moment it’s just about timing,” Lexus Australia chief executive John Pappas told media.
Mr Pappas said production of the PHEV is being prioritised for markets with strict carbon regulations, where strong PHEV and EV sales can drag down a manufacturer’s average emissions and potentially help them dodge steep fines.
Lexus isn’t the only brand being forced to wait for the latest plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles due to Australia’s relaxed emissions standards.
Volkswagen Group electric vehicles have been off limits for our market as production is sent to markets such as Europe and the USA, for example, and Kia Australia has battled to get its hands on supply of the EV6 and Niro electric vehicles.
Mr Pappas confirmed Lexus will know more about when the RX PHEV will hit Australia later in 2023, suggesting it won’t be here until late this year or early in 2024 at best.
The plug-in RX offers a claimed 65km of electric range from its 18.1kWh lithium-ion battery pack. It pairs a 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with an electric motor mounted on the front axle, and one on the rear axle for all-wheel drive.
Peak power is 237kW, and Lexus doesn’t quote a peak torque output. The same powertrain features in the smaller NX450h+ plug-in hybrid.
When it does arrive, the RX PHEV will take on plug-in hybrid versions of the BMW X5 and X3, along with the Audi Q5.
Along with plug-in hybrids, Lexus is preparing to expand its range of electric vehicles Down Under. An updated version of the UX300e SUV is on track to arrive mid-year, and the larger RZ SUV will touch down locally in May.
It’s part of a plan to have 80 per cent of Lexus sales feature some form of electric power – be it hybrid, plug-in hybrid, or a pure-electric drivetrain – by 2025. Just shy of 50 per cent of Lexus Australia sales have been electrified in 2023.
MORE: Everything Lexus RX