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Lexus pushes for more hybrid car sales in UAE

The Japanese brand's general manager says dealers in the Emirates are making customers aware of green options.

Apart from Mitsubishi and Hyundai, who were both displaying just one car each (neither of which will be available in the UAE anytime soon), Lexus was the only major player in attendance at the summit, and you couldn't really miss them as the LS600h and CT200h took centre stage right at the main entrance of the exhibition hall. Both these cars are on sale in the Emirates and the range will, according to Lexus' general manager here, Saud Abbasi, be joined by two other hybrid models this year.

"We're certainly pushing these cars to customers," said Abbasi, "and the past 12 months saw our hybrid sales increase by 100 per cent." When I pressed him for some actual figures, he remained tight-lipped, even when I remarked that might mean sales went up from one a year to two. "It's definitely more than two, that's all I can tell you," he laughed.

"We don't have many customers coming into our showrooms saying they want to buy a hybrid," he continued. "They walk in saying they just want to buy a Lexus. So we go through their individual requirements and, for some of them, a hybrid fits the bill nicely, especially when the increased fuel efficiency is brought up.

"In particular, the CT200h costs Dh138,000, so it offers cutting-edge technology and the usual Lexus refinements at an affordable price. I think this car will do well in the region and it's only available with the hybrid powertrain."

Abbasi freely admits that the biggest selling Lexus in the UAE is, unsurprisingly, the LX. "The whole market here is skewed towards large SUVs in general and there's not much we can do about that. And there are no plans for a hybrid LX as yet because of the complications in making it a powertrain that's as capable off-road as it is on. That one's a tough call." Thing is though, Porsche has managed it with the Cayenne so perhaps it's time Lexus sorted that one out.

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