The Lexus LF-Ch Hatchback Concept will go into production by 2011, according to Lexus Europe boss Matthew Harrison. The concept car was very recently unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show.
Harrison also confirmed that small Audi A5-rivalling SUV could also be joining it. Harrison said that Lexus needs a smaller SUV since it's one of the premium sectors that is growing. He did say that introducing it would lead to problems because it might be perceived a "me-too" car.
The small SUV, similar to the upcoming A3-rivalling hatch, is likely to be only offered with a petrol-electric hybrid powerplant. He did confirm that Lexus is likely to be a hybrid only manufacturer by 2012. At the moment, diesel takes a big market share in Europe.
He believes that the hybrid will come into its own when all tailpipe emissions get taken into account by legislation and Euro 6 diesel regulations come into play. The unveiling at Frankurt coincides with Lexus' celebration of its 20th anniversary.
A company source told Autocar about the risks involved in lowering Lexus into the segment but that it doesn't have a choice.
Lexus asserts that the bold new five-door hatch is designed specifically to appeal to a new, younger generation of buyers, with "compact dimensions, stylish packaging, unparalleled levels of quality and refinement, and sophisticated on-board technology."
The model is aimed to compete against the next-generation BMW 1-series and Audi A3. The production version of the 4.3m-long, front-drive LF-Ch is expected to appear later next year.