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The real reason the 2015 Lexus RC 300h hybrid coupe is not coming to America

And why we think it is the right move by Lexus.


The new 2015 Lexus RC 350, RC 350 F Sport, and the amazing RC F are coming this fall to Lexus dealerships. Torque News has been invited to drive the new RC in 3 weeks on both road and track. One vehicle that is not coming to the US is the RC 300h. Although the RC 300h is an amazing vehicle and has many positives, we understand Lexus' decision and would like to explain why we won’t get the sportiest Lexus Hybrid.

Lexus New RC is Supposed to be Sporty
Lexus’ new RC line is intended to compliment the IS sports sedan line. Although the RC is not a coupe version of the IS, there is no denying the cars share a lot including drivetrains. Lexus has also decided not to sell the IS 300h here in the US market, even though the vehicle is popular with owners in the UK and in other markets. The main reason is not that the RC 300h and IS 300h vehicles are not quick enough, though that is partly it. The RC 300h and IS 300h are roughly as quick as the IS 250 AWD, which goes from 0-60 MPH in about 8.3 seconds.

Carbon Taxation Is Why The RC 300h Exists
The real reason the RC 300h is not coming has to do with carbon taxation. As every fan of Lexus and Toyota know the company is committed to the environment. Yes, they make some cars that use a lot of gas, but they do also offer a choice. The choice is that one can get a gasoline car, or a dramatically lower carbon emitting hybrid version. In some markets, notably Europe, diesel had been very popular due to misguided policies that taxed it less ridiculously than gasoline. It was, therefore, cheaper. Many of these markets and countries are now at a crossroads. Despite the hype about diesel’s mileage and carbon benefits, the fact is diesel cannot compete with a gasoline hybrid in either sense.

Lexus has decided not to head down the diesel path. For that reason, the IS 300h and RC 300h are both its offerings in markets where carbon is an issue and fuel costs exorbitant. The US does not meet that standard.

Lexus Does Offer a 300h Sedan In the US
Lexus does offer a car with the “300h” drivetrain. It sells the ES 300h here in the US. I have driven the car, as has a few other Torque News staffers, and we found it a great match for that car, and that car’s mission. I am not a fan of the IS 250, particularly in AWD, because it simply too slow for its mission. The reasons I have laid out for why Lexus is not bringing the car to the US are fact-based. My opinion is it is the right choice. Lexus is at the point now where calling its cars boring is simply not factual. Moving back to “slow” cars in the lineup in US would not be a good move.

Related Stories:
The very good reasons why there will be no Lexus RC 250
Are the 2015 Lexus RC F and 2015 BMW M4 really competitors?

Photo courtesy of Jjciffy's channel &


Artur (not verified)    February 1, 2015 - 6:58PM

Your first 2 arguments don't hold well.
1. They brought over the NX300h.
2. If they do care about the environment, why don't they bring hybrids?

Snoop (not verified)    January 31, 2016 - 9:19PM

In reply to by Artur (not verified)

Let's call it what it is! This policy is flat out incompetence level of stupidity. Rather than getting the RC 300h, which is the car that I really really want, I'm going to have to go ahead and just buy a Tesla because Lexus is too stupid to realize they're giving up their business to other manufacturers of more environmentally minded customers. I currently own a ES 300h, I bought that because I couldn't get access to the RC 300h, and previous to this one I had the is250. Now I'm ready to make a vehicle change, and they still have not been smart enough to bring over the vehicle that I actually want so I'm just going to go with the Tesla. Definition of stupidity on the side of the Lexus business operations people.

John Goreham    February 1, 2016 - 8:31AM

In reply to by Snoop (not verified)

You do realize that Lexus Makes a GS 450h hybrid, right? It is mechanically very similar to the RC and roughly the same size from the B-pillar forward, but instead of a 4-cylinder hybrid has a 6-cylinder hybrid engine. It is a sedan, but of course, so is the model S. Here is a story that details the green credentials of the car a model year back. You will be happy to know that its performance is at a much higher level than the "300h" Lexus cars and it costs about the same as the least expensive Model S: Lexus sells more green cars than Tesla to a more diverse demographic.

Snoop (not verified)    February 1, 2016 - 6:29PM

In reply to by John Goreham

The problem is I DON'T want another sedan, grandma looking vehicle!! I want a sportier looking car with balls.! The ES300H has the balls in normal And Sport mode but looks like something a conservative grandmother would drive; this is where Tesla eviscerates Lexus in America. And OFC Toyota outsells Tesla... but simply On Price Point and options! If Tesla was the same price as Lexus AND had hybrids...?? EVERYTHING would be different for Toyota on the US. Toyota operations DMS are being stupid imbeciles by not offering the hybrid RC,Flat Out!

John Goreham    February 2, 2016 - 11:33AM

In reply to by Snoop (not verified)

I gotcha. The Tesla Model S is a great looking vehicle and its looks are aging well. It would be very cool if Tesla did a hopped up coupe version of its small vehicle at some point in the future. It would make more sense than in the very large Model S (then). If you get a Tesla, please circle back and let us know. It would make a great "Readers write" type story.

Tim Mariels (not verified)    July 3, 2019 - 2:27AM

In reply to by Snoop (not verified)

I am right there on the same page! I have been trying to figure out a way to import an IS300h as I want something with good fuel economy yet is sporty looking and doesn’t look like grandpa’s car. I have a 2004 IS 300 and want a similar car in a hybrid version, even better if it was a plug in!! Lexus really messed up putting its eggs in the CT basket, which is being phased out...bring the Hybrid cars to the US Lexus and you will be rewarded with loyalty and SALES!

Snoop (not verified)    February 2, 2016 - 1:46PM

In terms of design, the RC crushes the Tesla, bar none. I don't know what it's going to take to put a fire under Lexus' ass before they realize how much Tesla is eating their lunch... And at a much higher price point! Lol bye bye Lexus and Toyota... You missed out on my $60K lol and I always pay cash for my vehicles lol

John Goreham    February 3, 2016 - 11:07AM

In reply to by Snoop (not verified)

I like your style Snoop, but there is no Tesla one can buy for $60K cash. The least expensive one is $71,200. After state rebates if they apply $68,700. That Tesla does not have the cool autopilot, exceptional performance, winter package with heated seats, or premium interior. Those of us that pay cash for cars don't get to enjoy the $7,500 tax break either. Alternative Minimum Tax is a bummer. That said, there is no doubt Tesla has taken market share from Lexus during its past five years of growth. I think it will take a slowdown in sales growth for Lexus to really care.

Snoop (not verified)    February 3, 2016 - 11:30AM

Bro, you're super optimistic about Lexus lol Tesla has self driving, "autopilot", cars since 2014 and ofc it comes ac seats lol. And what's $10k more for a great car? My point was just that Lexus won't be getting my $60K, because the operations managers are clueless to the needs of their own clientele.

Trekie (not verified)    February 8, 2016 - 9:29AM

I live in the UK and picked up my new 2016 Lexus RC300h F Sport two weeks ago and what a lovely car. Its smooth to drive in Eco mode and if you want a bit more power slip it into Sport or Sport +.

John (not verified)    May 31, 2016 - 4:12PM

In reply to by Trekie (not verified)

I live in UK too. I picked up my 2016 RC300h "F" Sport 5 days ago, just love it, getting used to driving on air in silence. Mine is Sonic red exterior, with Clove interior. Eco mode around town is brilliant and "FREE" to drive, while out of town put it in "S" or "S+" what fun.

Mark Walk (not verified)    December 20, 2022 - 11:22AM

I live in the UK and have a 2018 Lexus rc300h in white! Its smooth ,eco friendly and fun when in sport and sport+ mode. I would say fuel economy is between 32mpg and 52mpg ! average 45mpg. beautiful car and top Quality.