Lexus test for Aussie roads
LEXUS will send a team of engineers to Australia to drive a pre-production version of its forthcoming hybrid hatchback, the CT200h, to make sure it is suited to Australian road conditions.
The engineers will arrive next month to test the crucial new car - due in Australian dealerships in March - on local roads in a bid to address concerns flagged by Australian media at the car's international launch in Paris earlier this year.
Lexus Australia corporate manager of marketing and sales, Peter Evans, says the company submitted a wish list of changes to the CT200h program chief engineer, Osamu Sadakata, after the car was widely criticised for excessive noise and vibration inside the cabin.
"Lexus Australia always provides feedback post vehicle drives to our engineering team and this was no different for the CT 200h prototypes driven in Paris earlier this year," he says.
"Continuous feedback from early vehicle evaluation is a normal part of the development process and this process is no different for CT 200h.''
It's a crucial play for the local arm of the Japanese car maker, which is expecting the five-door compact hatchback to bring a significant sales boost and conquest sales from its European compact luxury rivals.
At the car's unveiling at the Paris motor show, Lexus Australia chief executive Tony Cramb has described the CT200h as ''the biggest launch for Lexus Australia since 1995'' and Lexus Europe vice-president Andy Pfeiffenberger said it was ''a potential game-changer'' and forecast it would account for half of Lexus sales in Europe within two years.
Speculation suggests the company could add a bigger engine later next year and Cramb expects the CT model line to become the company's third ''volume vehicle'' along with the IS sedan and RX soft-roader ranges.
"The compact luxury market has been growing for some time, since 2004 it's more than doubled. We've definitely been looking for a car to come in so it's very exciting to have it finally,'' Cramb says.