TOKYO -- Lexus aims to make hybrid technology a hallmark of the brand, but it won't rush to adopt lithium ion power packs even as rivals flock to the lighter, powerful batteries.
Mark Templin, executive vice president of Lexus International, said lithium ion batteries don't bring enough benefits to justify shifting the lineup from the older, heavier nickel-metal hydride batteries Lexus has relied on for eight years.
"We feel like we need to get to the next generation of batteries," Templin said at a July 10 launch event for the Lexus IS sedan. "Lithium ion doesn't bring enough positive return. You have to leapfrog the current technology to get to the next generation of battery technology."
That could happen by around 2020, he suggested.
"In our world, that's pretty quick. That's almost a product cycle," Templin said. "A lot of the German luxury car life cycles are seven, eight years. That's one cycle of their cars, and we'll be in different technology."
Toyota Motor Corp. has only sparingly deployed lithium ion batteries, and no Lexus hybrid has one. But rivals such as Nissan Motor Co., Honda Motor Co., Mitsubishi Motors Corp., Volkswagen AG, BMW AG and Ford Motor Co. are among those that have shifted to lithium batteries from nickel ones.
Lithium ion batteries are lighter and more powerful than nickel-metal hydride batteries but typically cost more.
Lexus introduced its first hybrid, a gasoline-electric RX crossover, in 2005. It now offers hybrid versions of the ES, IS, GS and LS sedans, as well as the hybrid-only CT and HS.