NEW YORK – Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.’s Lexus luxury division predicts its new high-performance LS 600h L V-8 hybrid-electric vehicle will achieve a combined fuel economy rating of about 20-25 mpg (11.8-9.4 L/100 km).

The final numbers won’t be known until closer to the HEV’s spring 2007 launch, largely due to changes to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s fuel economy test, a Toyota official says.

The LS 600h L, to be sold only as a long-wheelbase model in the U.S., will achieve 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in the low 5-second range, Bob Carter, group vice president and general manager, says here following the car’s unveiling at the New York auto show.

This compares to a 0-60 mph time for the ’07 LS 460 in the upper 5-second range.

Lexus will badge all its HEVs globally with the “Lexus Hybrid Drive” nomenclature.

Carter adds that Lexus is seeing “no decline” in hybrid-vehicle sales as is the case for some other auto makers, specifically parent Toyota Motor Corp. and Ford Motor Co.

Carter predicts the LS 600h L, which has two electric motors mated to a direct-injection 5L V-8 engine, will make up 10%-15% of the LS mix.

He says the new build process devised for the LS hybrid at Toyota’s Tahara, Japan, plant resulted in “huge commitments in capital and engineering expertise,” but he is unable to specify a monetary figure.

The LS 600h L is due to go into production next January at Tahara.

Pricing has not yet been determined, but Carter says it will be the flagship of the Lexus lineup.

Meanwhile, Carter says no decision has been made on a possible new Lexus flagship, a $100,000-plus supercar. Lexus unveiled the LF-A concept supercar at the 2005 Detroit auto show, and Carter says it is possible production still is under study.

Also, he denies reports Lexus is considering building a small cross/utility vehicle from the Toyota RAV4 platform at the auto maker’s plant under construction in Woodstock, Ont., Canada.

cschweinsberg@wardsauto.com