Lexus LF-Ch Compact Hybrid Concept Debuts In Frankfurt

September 15, 2009
2009 Lexus LF-Ch concept at the 2009 Frankfurt auto show

2009 Lexus LF-Ch concept at the 2009 Frankfurt auto show

Enlarge Photo

2009 Lexus LF-Ch concept at the 2009 Frankfurt auto show

2009 Lexus LF-Ch concept at the 2009 Frankfurt auto show

Enlarge Photo

2009 Lexus LF-Ch concept at the 2009 Frankfurt auto show

2009 Lexus LF-Ch concept at the 2009 Frankfurt auto show

Enlarge Photo

2009 Lexus LF-Ch Compact Hybrid Concept

2009 Lexus LF-Ch Compact Hybrid Concept

Enlarge Photo

2009 Lexus LF-Ch Compact Hybrid Concept

2009 Lexus LF-Ch Compact Hybrid Concept

Enlarge Photo

The 2010 Lexus HS 250h is barely out and about, and already Lexus is preparing for an even more compact hybrid. The concept for the new car, called the LF-Ch, hit the floor in Frankfurt today, and these live photos show what it's like up close and personal.

As in the studio shots revealed about a week ago, the front view of the car shows off some pleasant lines, with a heavy dose of nostril-like air scoops on each side of the front bumper. A heavily-styled rear fascia ties this theme in from behind, though the smooth sides and stealthed door handles make for a surprisingly plain profile, perhaps hinting at the production version's looks.

Unlike the HS 250h, the LF-Ch is tentatively being aimed primarily at Europe. Since Americans spare little love for hatchbacks, the car is already working from a disadvantage. Toss in the likely high final pricing due to its premium position and hybrid drivetrain, and you have a tough situation for Lexus in the U.S., especially when you start throwing options at it and watch the price climb above $40,000.

In Europe, where price points are higher across the board, there is more room to build in luxury and high-efficiency drivetrain options, and Lexus needs a way to compete successfully with the diesels that are so popular there. The match of compact hybrid hatch to European market makes a lot of sense.

But there are many--especially in the bigger cities--who'd love to have the option of Lexus reliability and style combined with a hybrid drivetrain capable of all-electric stints and a compact but useful hatchback body. So the door is still open, provided Lexus can find a way to shoehorn the car into a price and market position that Americans find acceptable.

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