Peter Anderson | Oct 9, 2013

Lexus Australia chief executive Sean Hanley is refusing to admit defeat - or even disappointment - with the CT 200h baby hybrid.

"We see the CT 200h as our greatest opportunity," Hanley said, speaking at today's Lexus ES briefing in Sydney.

The car was launched at the 2011 Australian Grand Prix, with the company making the brave decision to let celebrities loose on the Albert Park track.

Strong initial interest got the little hybrid off to a good start, and sales in 2012 were sitting at around 150 units per month. A precipitous drop in demand has seen just 54 moved in September 2013.

Hope is on the horizon however, with a facelift due in early 2014 ahead of an all-new model in 2016.

When the CT launched, it was priced very close to its less well-equipped cousin, the Toyota Prius, and had fewer competitors close to its starting price.

The CT 200h now ranges from $39,990 through to $57,990, with just the one engine and transmission combination available.

Its European rivals offer a mix of petrol and diesel engines, and a choice of transmissions: manual, twin-clutch or automatic.

The new A-Class and Audi A3 as well as the cheaper BMW 1 Series are each selling at least six times the volume of the Lexus. As Hanley says, "The market has moved."

By contrast, the rest of the Lexus range is performing strongly, with only the IS300h's supply woes preventing Lexus from maximising the new car's potential.

We can expect to see the updated CT 200h late this year or early next year, before going on sale around the middle of 2014 - likely with a new, lower starting price to combat the Europeans.


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