Lexus RX450h+ mysterious patent filing hints at plug-in hybrid
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Lexus entered the hybrid segment ahead of a vast majority of its competitors, but shyly stayed away from the plug-in hybrid arena. Trademark documents filed in Europe suggest this will change sooner rather than later.
Toyota's luxury division has asked the European Union Intellectual Property Office to protect the RX450h + nameplate. She was awarded the trademark in October 2020. The name is used for "automobiles and parts thereof" which means that it is likely to be a nameplate. It's known, but the plus makes a huge difference.
Lexus already sells a car called the RX450h; It is a hybrid version of the fourth generation RX crossover, which is by far the best-selling model. Untested reports claim that the plus after the h will mean a plug-in hybrid model powered by an evolution of the Toyota RAV4 Prime's gasoline-electric powertrain. It'll put at least 300 horsepower under the driver's right foot, and it should be able to go about 40 miles on electricity alone, a number that will put it near the top of its class. It'll be pretty quick too.
Rumors are a dozen in the auto industry and a trademark application should never be confused with a promise to release the model in it, but this report is more believable than most. Lexus has previously confirmed that it will release its first plug-in hybrid model in the early 2020s after shunning the technology for years, and it makes sense to add the powertrain to the RX. It sells well (about 111,000 units found a home in the US in 2019) and it's a relatively large model, making it relatively easy to add a battery pack to it.
It is worth noting that the smaller NX was to receive the same powertrain and a similar name in the not too distant future.
Lexus has not commented on the trademark application or publicly announced any plans to release a plug-in hybrid variant of the RX (pictured) or the NX. If the report is correct, the crossover is likely to make its public debut in the months ahead. However, whether it will be sold in the US remains to be seen.
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