From: Kyodo News International, Tokyo
Published November 15, 2004 12:00 AM

Huge Demand Forces Toyota to Delay U.S. Sales of new Lexus Hybrid SUV

Nov. 15—NEW YORK — Toyota Motor Corp. has been forced to delay the launch of the Lexus RX400h, the world's first luxury hybrid sport utility vehicle, in the United States until April next year due to soaring demand.

Toyota notified its Lexus dealers last Friday that the RX 400h, known as the Harrier brand in Japan, will go on sale April 15 instead of early next year.

Lexus has more than 9,500 confirmed pre-sold orders for the 2006 RX 400h, the company said. More than 46,000 consumers have also registered for more information about the vehicle through the company's website.

"We've received significantly more pre-launch consumer interest for the 400h than any vehicle in our entire 15-year history," said Denny Clements, the Lexus group's vice president and general manager.

Although the company has confirmed the launch date, it is attempting to move the start of production up even earlier in 2005 to build up sufficient inventories to meet the demand it expects in mid-April, he added.

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