Lexus is poised to go electric, confirming plans to show its first production EV in November, focused on China. It has divulged no specifics on what segment it will compete in, though we believe it’s a derivative of a current model.
The brand will then roll out a brand-new “dedicated” electric car around 2022 on its own version of a new Toyota Group e-TNGA platform, focused on more markets with growing EV demand, starting with Europe and the US.
Around the same time its first plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) will appear, sold alongside more affordable conventional mild hybrids.
By 2025 it promises an ‘electrified’ version of every car it sells. It aims by the “for sales of electrified vehicle models to outpace those of conventional internal combustion engine vehicle models”.
Lexus LF-30 Concept
This huge (5.1m long) segment-defying crossover-hatch shows off the company’s future design language, cabin technologies, and autonomous driving aids. But more interestingly it also runs on batteries.
Lexus claims the LF-30 uses a 110kWh lithium-ion battery pack, bigger even than Tesla’s Model X. It powers four electric motors making 400kW/700Nm, which allow a claimed 0-100km/h sprint in 3.8 seconds despite weighing 2.4 tonnes.
More importantly it has a claimed 500km driving range between charges against the WLTP real-world criteria. Charging times aren’t available, though its maximum charging speed is 150kW — compared to 270kW for the 800V Porsche Taycan.
Lexus calls the future-facing (for now) LF-30 Concept “a fundamental leap in performance, handling, control and driver enjoyment” for its brand. It was designed by its European team based in France.
“The vehicle form is meant to visually express the energy created by the wheels set at the corners of the vehicle body streaming toward the vehicle cabin and past the driver to directly flow onto the road surface,” the company reckons.
Taking advantage of a bonnet-less vehicle shape made possible by being a BEV, the signature Lexus ‘spindle’ form has been further evolved to span the entire vehicle architecture. It’s biiiiiig.
The opacity of the side windows can be freely adjusted like on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, the colour of the front face and luminescence patterns help identify from the outside whether the vehicle is being operated in its normal mode or in its autonomous driving mode, and the exterior colour employs a cool metal-infused coating.
The concept sports four electric motors, one per wheel. This frees up extra interior space and also means the car can be front-wheel, rear-wheel or all-wheel drive.
Its onboard brain controls the torque distribution to keep the body control in check through weight transfer - this system is called Lexus Advanced Posture Control - while the low centre of gravity from the floor-mounted batteries further helps handling.
This has production relevance too. “Positioning Lexus Advanced Posture Control technology as a core element of the Lexus LF-30 Electrified vision, Lexus intends to widely apply this technology throughout its line-up of electrified vehicles,” the company says.
We have learned that future F Sport products will use trick electrification technologies...
The concept’s steer-by-wire system (like that used by Infiniti) eliminates a mechanical connection, saving space and weight and letting the steering controller/wheel move away in autonomous driving mode. Lexus also claims it can tune in “precise steering feel”, but we’ll have to wait and see there…
Promisingly, it uses wireless charging technology to simplify daily charging, though the efficiency of Lexus’ system was not detailed here. Traditionally inductive charging is slow and heavy on losses. Toyota is also on the cusp of solid-state batteries...
As well as designed to be a test bed for driverless technologies that are being worked on by Toyota’s scientists in California, there’s a self-parking system and a front-door pick-up where the LF-30 Electrified autonomously moves from driveway to doorstep. A bit like Tesla’s Summon mode, seemingly.
The interior design is based on a new Lexus concept called ‘Tazuna’, the Japanese word for ‘reins’, symbolising the goal of making the driver and car ‘as one’. Interfaces include gesture control, head-up displays, and better presentation of vehicle information (than the current Lexus UI) through augmented reality surfaces.
The onboard AI distinguishes the voices of vehicle occupants. It learns about you and can change most interior setting through voice control. Like HAL? It also 'understands' the driver’s preferences and can change the suspension and powertrain settings in real-time, something Mercedes’ MBUX cannot yet do.
A glass roof above the rear seats features voice control and a gesture-controlled ‘SkyGate’ display window that uses additional augmented reality to display various types of information, such as a star-filled sky, user-favourite videos, and even navigation.
The back seats use ‘artificial muscle technology’ to mould to the occupant, and can support various modes such as reclining, relaxation and alert functions. The Mark Levinson audio system includes speakers in the headrests.
Sustainable materials (this is a green car after all) used include Yakisugi charred cedar in the floor and steering controller, while recycled metal was processed into fibres for use in creating the pleated door trim.
Being a concept car there’s also one particularly radical touch, a ‘Lexus Airporter’ drone-technology support vehicle. Using autonomous control, the Lexus Airporter is capable of such tasks as independently transporting baggage. Remember the Lexus ‘hoverboard’? It’s a new version of that.
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