Sale Director of Lexus Singapore says that the brand is in the right place with hybrids as the country transitions to electric vehicles

Lionel Kong

Stanley Chia of Lexus Singapore on how the Japanese brand will gradually bring EVs into the fold here


Stanley Chia, the sales director of Lexus as Borneo Motors Singapore, is cautiously optimistic about the Japanese luxury brand’s prospects for the near future in Singapore. 

Lexus is part of the big push into electrification by parent company Toyota, and the brand is set to be all-EV by 2030. The first Lexus EV to arrive in Singapore has just hit the streets in the form of the Lexus RZ 450e, which wears a very familiar silhouette marking its family ties to the popular Lexus RX 350h SUV.

Is this the real beginning of the road to full electrification of Lexus in Singapore?

Stanley Chia thinks that progressive steps are more in order here. “Electric cars remain a hot topic across the board in Singapore,” he says. “While the EV Early Adoption Incentive will continue until the end of 2023 making an EV purchase attractive right now despite the current high COE prices, at Lexus we feel that over the next few years, petrol-electric hybrid cars are where the real practical gains can be made.”

Lexus RZ EV

The Lexus RZ 450e isn’t the first series production Lexus EV to be made. That achievement goes to the Lexus UX 300e, a smaller urban crossover SUV that was launched in China in late 2019.

Even though the authorities have been actively placing public EV chargers everywhere, Chia feels that there is still a lot of public education and adaptation to be done. In the meantime, petrol-electric hybrids fill the role nicely by having typically long driving ranges between fill-ups, and feature electrification without the fear of being stranded without a charger in sight, or having limited driving range into Malaysia. 

Stanley Chia and Jasmmine Wong, CEO of Inchcape Greater China and Singapore, unveiling the Lexus RZ 450e in Singapore
Stanley Chia and Jasmmine Wong, CEO of Inchcape Greater China and Singapore, unveiling the Lexus RZ 450e in Singapore

“The thing with full hybrids, that is, those that are not just rated as ‘mild hybrids’, is that they are very efficient on petrol use, now have decent electric-only drive capability, and are essentially self-charging, so you not only can got much further with each full tank of petrol, but also do not have to worry about hunting for an EV charger if you don’t already have one installed at home,” adds Chia. 

The cabin of the new Lexus RZ 450e
The cabin of the new Lexus RZ 450e

Well actually, what he means by ‘self-charging’ is simply Lexus marketing language for ‘petrol engine-powered charging’, because in most series production petrol-electric hybrids the internal combustion engine is generating the power to recharge the electric motor’s batteries, while also driving the car in between, either together with the electric motor or on its own. Of course in low load situations, the electric motor alone will provide motive power while the petrol engine switches off.

There are exceptions to the rule however, such as with Nissan’s e-Power cars that use the petrol engine solely for charging the batteries, and only the electric motor is used to actually provide driving force. Either way, it’s a lot more efficient on fuel than to just use it to directly drive a car, as it has been the way since automobiles were developed. 

Yet with the high profile marketing of luxury EVs like the BMW iX, Mercedes-EQ EQB, and Audi Q8 E-tron already well established, isn’t Lexus a little late to the game?

“The race is always being run,” explains Chia. “We are always in competition with other carmakers to produce better cars. With a 100 percent EV lineup planned for the further the roadmap is already developed, and for now Lexus feels that the best way forwards is to have a lineup of hybrids, with EVs gradually being introduced as maintaining one becomes less of a hassle, and with more public EV chargers in the country. In short, we feel that hybrids as offered in cars like our IS sedans and NX SUVs are the near future answer, and EVs will gradually be phased into the lineup worldwide.” 

Would you pay S$1 million for a hybrid BMW?

The Lexus RZ 450e, wearing a local launch price of S$402,888 with COE, is pricey enough to be classed as a mid-tier luxury EV, and Chia is confident that the brand’s fans will continued to be won over by the ‘three Cs’ built into it.

The Lexus RZ 450e launch event in Singapore
The Lexus RZ 450e launch party in Singapore

“Comfort, control, confidence. These are the qualities that the Lexus RZ imbues, with its dual motor, all-wheel drive system and complete suite of active safety systems,” explains Chia. “It’s a car that’s targeted at drivers that like to have cutting-edge technology and a luxury electric car represents the best of this. The RZ 450e is also a very quick, driver-centric car that promises a well-balanced, comfortable experience every time you get in. We believe that it is, in the present state of industry development, the perfect combination for an urban all-electric luxury SUV.”


electric cars EV Lexus RZ 450e Stanley Chia

About the Author

Lionel Kong

An old hand from the bad old days of crazy COEs, the straight-shooting, ex-CarBuyer editor is back in the four-wheeled world. Rumours that he went to another country to start a Judas Priest tribute band are unfounded.

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