JEJU, June 20 (Korea Bizwire) — Lexus Korea said Monday it will launch its first dedicated pure electric model ‘RZ 450e’ next year as part of its plan to go all-electric by 2035.
Lexus plans to introduce the RZ 450e large-sized SUV equipped with the battery electric vehicle (BEV)-only platform developed by Toyota Motor Corp. in the Korean market in 2023, a company official told Yonhap News Agency.
The Japanese carmaker will initially launch the RZ 450e model in the United States later this year, the official said on the sidelines of a media test-drive event held on Jeju Island.
“We will be gradually launching our zero-emission models in other major EV markets, which include Europe and China, in line with the global electrification trend,” he said.
Last week, Lexus introduced the UX300e compact SUV, the electrified version of the UX gasoline hybrid model, and the NX PHEV, the plug-in version of the NX gasoline hybrid SUV, to boost sales in Asia’s fourth-biggest economy.
The UX 300e comes with a 54.35-kWh lithium-ion battery and can travel up to 233 kilometers on a single charge. It takes about 80 minutes to charge it fully.
Toyota Motor and Lexus will introduce a combined 30 BEV models in global markets by 2030 and aim to sell a total of 3.5 million units of BEVs by the same year.
In particular, Lexus is targeting to sell 1 million BEVs by 2030 and replace most of its vehicles with BEVs by 2035.
Currently, 98 percent of Lexus vehicles and 93 percent of Toyota models sold globally are gasoline hybrid models.
Toyota Motor plans to launch the all-electric bZ4X SUV in the Korean market later this year.
“Unlike Lexus, Toyota plans to keep some of its gasoline hybrid models in its lineup to meet demands in markets where it takes time for local governments to establish the charging infrastructure, such as in Southeast Asia, compared with advanced countries,” the official said.
Japanese carmakers have struggled with weak sales in Korea in recent years due to the lingering impact of trade tensions between Seoul and Tokyo in 2019.
In July 2019, Japan tightened regulations on exports to South Korea of three high-tech materials critical for the production of semiconductors and displays.
In August, Japan officially removed South Korea from its list of countries given preferential treatment in trade procedures.
The Japanese moves were widely regarded as retaliation against court rulings here that ordered Japanese firms to compensate South Korean victims of forced labor during Japan’s 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.
In 2020, Japanese brands — Toyota Motor, its luxury brand Lexus, Honda Motor Co., and Nissan Motor Co. and its premium brand Infiniti — saw their combined sales plunge 44 percent to 20,564 vehicles from 36,661 units a year earlier.
In December 2020, Nissan withdrew its operations from Korea due to the worsening business environment amid the COVID-19 pandemic.