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Lexus RX 400h

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The Lexus RX 400h is an automobile assembled by Toyota Motor Corp. under the Lexus brand name using Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive technology. It is called the Toyota Harrier Hybrid in Japan. After first being introduced in January 2004 at the North American International Auto Show, it would become the world's second mass-produced hybrid SUV, after the Ford Escape Hybrid. In November 2004, Toyota announced the American launch of hybrid Lexus/Toyota SUV will be delayed to the 2006 model year, with European and Asian launches during 2006. The Toyota version of the same car debuted in Japan on March 22, 2005, the same day as the Toyota Highlander Hybrid.

Toyota will price the RX 400h/Harrier Hybrid at a substantial premium over the non-hybrid RX300/RX330/Harrier. The list price in Japan ranges from 4.095 million Yen to 4.62 million Yen. In US, it will be priced at US$49,185, which is a $5,600 premium over a similarly-equipped RX 330.

The gasoline-powered part of the engine system is a 3.3 L 3MZ-FE V6, very similar to the one found in the RX 330. It produced, in the case of the Harrier Hybrid, 211 hp JIS (155 kW) and 288 Nm (212 ft·lbf). The petrol engine is aided by a maximum of two additional electric motors, one driving the front wheels, producing 167 hp JIS (123 kW) and 333 Nm (245 ft·lbf) and connected to the CVT gearbox, and the other driving the rear wheels, producing 68 hp JIS (50 kW) and 130 Nm (95 ft·lbf). The whole system, called Hybrid Synergy Drive, produces a maximum of 272 hp JIS (200 kW). Under normal driving conditions, only the front motor and petrol engine will be used. The rear motor will only be used under full-throttle acceleration or when the front wheels lose traction. The petrol engine will switch off automatically and the car will be electrically driven when either stationary, decelerating, or being driven at a slow speed. A Ni-MH battery is responsible for powering the motors, and it is charged during deceleration.

The assistance of the electric motor increases the vehicle's performance; the 400h/Harrier Hybrid can reach 60 mph (97 km/h) in less than 8 s, quicker than the petrol-only RX. Despite the increased performance, the RX 400h/Harrier Hybrid consumes roughly the same amount of petrol as a compact four-cylinder saloon and it qualifies as a Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (SULEV) in America. Under the Japanese "10.15 mode" fuel consumption standard, the Harrier Hybrid can run 17.8 km per litre of fuel (compared with the standard coil-sprung V6 3.0 L Harrier, which returned 9.4 km/L). In Japan, it qualifies as a "4-star" LEV-car, where it produces 75% fewer emissions than the standard specified in Heisei 17 (i.e. year 2005).

Controversy

As of autumn 2005, the Antonov Automotive Technology BV Plc company has sued Toyota, the Lexus brand mother company, over alleged patent infringement relating to key components in the RX400h's drivetrain and the Toyota Prius hybrid compact car. The case has been pending in secret since April 2005, but settlement negotiations did not bring a mutually acceptable result. Antonov eventually took legal recourse in the German court system, where decisions are usually made relatively swiftly. The patent holder seeks to impose a levy on each vehicle sold, which could make the jhphybrid SUV less competitive. Toyota fought back by seeking to officially invalidate Antonov's relevant patents. The court motion in Winword document format can be read.

External links

Lexus RX 400h 2006.jpg
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