Lexus rolls out first hybrid-only car

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TOKYO --- Toyota trotted out its first hybrid-only Lexus luxury model Tuesday, as the world's top automaker seeks to turn itself around by pushing the increasingly popular green technology.

Toyota Motor Corp. already offers several gas-electric hybrids, including Lexus models. The HS 250h, which stands for "harmonious sedan," is the first Lexus available as a hybrid-only, just as the Toyota Prius is a hybrid-only model.

Toyota plans to sell 500 of its HS 250h cars a month in Japan, and has already received 3,000 orders, Toyota official Toshio Furutani said at a Tokyo science museum, where the new Lexus was shown to reporters.

The HS 250h goes on sale in North America in September, where Toyota is targeting sales of 2,400 a month, despite a languishing auto market.

It starts at 3.95 million yen ($42,500) in Japan, relatively affordable for a Lexus. North American prices aren't decided, according to Toyota.

Toyota said the HS250h gets 23 kilometers a liter, which translates to about 54 mpg. Mileage from U.S. testing conditions has not yet been released; it would be lower than in Japan, where city driving translates to higher economy with a hybrid.

Hiroyuki Koba, the chief engineer for the HS250h, designing hybrid-only models helps create spacious interiors and trunks. Converting a gas model to a hybrid, on the other hand, presents challenges on where to put the battery and motor, he said.

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