This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

September 15, 2004

Lexus Hybrid-Electric SUV Draws Strong Pre-Launch Demand

Lexus announced on September 4th that its dealers have received more than 9,000 pre-sold orders for its 2006 RX 400h hybrid-electric sport utility vehicle (SUV). "We've received significantly more pre-launch orders for the 400h than we've had for any vehicle in our entire 15-year history," said Lexus Group Vice President and General Manager, Denny Clements. Lexus plans to start delivering the vehicles to its showrooms early next year and, considering the strong demand, the company is already establishing a new communication system to keep wait-listed customers informed of the status of their order. See the Lexus press release.

Here's another effect of the growth in demand for hybrid vehicles: Lexus' parent corporation, Toyota, is boosting prices for its popular hybrid-electric Prius by 2.9 percent. The 2005 model will differ little from the 2004 model, and customers that have been waiting since March for a Prius will be eligible for a reimbursement of most of the price increase. See the Toyota press release.

Toyota also held training recently for 400 firefighters in California's Orange County, to teach them how to respond safely to accidents involving its hybrid vehicles. The company has published emergency response guides for the vehicles, including special procedures for extricating the occupants, overhauling the vehicles, and responding to fires, fluid spills, and submersion of the vehicles. Most of the special procedures relate to realizing when the vehicle is in auto-stop, but still turned on, and dealing with the high voltage systems and the presence of the batteries. See the Toyota press release and Toyota's emergency response guides for hybrid-electric and alternative fuel vehicles.