"Hybrids don't always have to be about about flowery, sunshine-filled days in the park". With those words, Lexus serves notice that the CT 200h is out to prove that hybrid powertain save-the-earth frugality and enthusiast-satisfying fun-to-drive are not a mutually exclusive oxymoron. Further cementing this belief is Lexus' official dedicated CT 200h microsite, <A HREF="http://www.darkersideofgreen.com/ride.html#home">darkersideofgreen.com</A>. Building significantly upon its still-active predecessor, <A HREF="http://www.lexus.com/fcv/ct200h.html">the CT 200h page in the Future/Concept section of the official Lexus USA website</A>, the Darker Side of Green consists of six distinct sections, which we'll explore in the following paragraphs of this story.
The first of six stacked links along the right side of the Home Page takes us to the site's highlight, the <A HREF="http://www.lexusdarkride.com/">Dark Ride film</A>. First previewed by <A HREF="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p0KhesoAZcI">a minute-long trailer</A> that debuted at the <A HREF="http://www.ct200hforum.com/forum/lexus-ct200h-general-discussion-forum/117290-pics-video-coverage-3-30-10-ct200h-kick-off-party-skylight-west-new-york-ny.html">CT 200h New York Launch Party held at the Skylight West on Tuesday 30 March</A> and then went on to appear at the Lexus stand at the New York Auto Show, as a movie theater trailer and on YouTube, the full movie runs for 12½ minutes. The film stars actor <A HREF="http://www.normanreedusonline.com/">Norman Reedus</A>, a true Renaissance man that, as <A HREF="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norman_Reedus">Wikipedia</A> informs us, has also worked at a Harley Davidson shop, done some modeling and contributed artwork to various shows as a painter, photographer, sculptor, and video artist. His major claim to fame as an actor is his role as Murphy MacManus in the two <A HREF="http://www.boondocksaints.com/">Boondock Saints</A> movies. In Dark Ride, he plays Tony, the driver hired to, in <A HREF="http://pressroom.toyota.com/pr/tms/lexus/lexus-invites-consumers-to-co-158648.aspx">Lexus' own words</A>, "drive the CT 200h from the Nevada desert to a Los Angeles safehouse and protect it from a variety of enemies who wish to get their hands on the new prototype". Riding shotgun beside Tony is you, via an array of interactive features in the film that allow you to insert your own likeness (via a Webcam or profile pic), record your own dialogue lines, control the camera movement and point of view, and make decisions that alter the path of the film so new situations arise each time.
It's funny to note the array of Detroit 3 cars (a couple of Ford Crown Victorias, a black Ford Expedition and a trio of Chevrolet Tahoes) that give chase to the Tungsten Pearl (silver) Lexus CT 200h. Frankly, it's refreshing to see a CT 200h in a color other than the Starfire Pearl (white) of the pre-production prototype that has traveled from Geneva to New York to Madrid. We couldn't help but chuckle at CT200hForum.com member Seal's astute observation on <A HREF="http://lexusenthusiast.com/2010/05/14/lexus-ct-200h-dark-ride-interactive-movie/">The Lexus Enthusiast blog</A> that the film car's alloy wheels look different in a couple of spots. Stealth preview of an accesory or optional wheel style or a simple CGI (computer-generated imagery) goof? Probably the latter, but you never know. Oh, and there's the matter of the final Detroit 3 car that gives chase about 10 minutes into the film: a black 1969 Dodge Charger (surely a homage to <A HREF="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bullitt">Bullitt</A>) with a famous race car driver with historical ties to Lexus at the helm. No, we're not naming names. You figure out who we're talking about...
Next comes the Darker Side of Green site's <A HREF="http://www.darkersideofgreen.com/ride.html#events">Events</A> section, which is simply pictures and a brief description of the aforementioned debate that took place at the Skylight West in New York City on the eve of the official North American CT 200h unveiling at the New York Auto Show, plus glimpses at the show stand itself. Then comes the <A HREF="http://www.darkersideofgreen.com/ride.html#gallery-/-specs">Gallery / Specs</A> section, with as much information as Lexus is ready to reveal at this time, including the selection of seven exterior colors and five interior options to be offered on the CT 200h for the United States market. (We'll be expanding on this subject in a future CT200hForum.com Front Page story). Following as the fourth section of the site is the self-explanatory <A HREF="http://www.darkersideofgreen.com/colors.html#get-updates">Get Updates</A>, although past experience tells us that these updates usually appear faster on Lexus fan sites such as this one or on the <A HREF="http://pressroom.toyota.com/pr/tms/default.aspx">Toyota USA Newsroom</A> than via Lexus' e-mails.
<A HREF="http://www.darkersideofgreen.com/colors.html#win-a-ct-200h">Win a CT 200h</A> is your link to enter a contest allowing you to, yes, win a CT 200h. That page's Click here for full sweepstakes rules link, among the drawn-out legalese, reveals that one entry per person is allowed for the contest that ends at 11:59 PM Eastern Time on January 15, 2011, with the winner selected via random drawing five days later. The contest is open only to legal residents of the 48 contiguous United States and the District of Columbia who are at least 21 years old at the time of entry. The rules also make the eye-opening revelation of a $35,000 Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price for the Lexus CT 200h being awarded, but it is totally unclear what sort of equipment levels that vehicle would include.
Finally, there's the <A HREF="http://www.darkersideofgreen.com/ride.html#vip-card-holder">VIP Card Holder</A> section. Its Click here for full sweepstakes rules page informs us that this promotion (which ends on September 30, 2010) involves your getting a hold of a Lexus Dark Ride Card in one of the following four ways:
(1) via hand outs at select locations by Lexus Dark Ride representatives in the following four regions: New York, NY; Los Angeles, CA; Chicago, IL; or Miami, FL
(2) via a direct mailing to your home
(3) via gift bags given out at participating events including <A HREF="http://www.papermag.com/">Paper Magazine</A> events in Los Angeles and New York or
(4) by visiting a participating partner location.
Then, with card and registration code in hand, you sign up at the <A HREF="http://www.darkersideofgreen.com/ride.html#vip-card-holder">VIP Card Holder</A> section of the Darker Side of Green not-so-microsite to receive invitations to further exclusive events and special offers available only by using your Dark Ride Card.