Concept previews new BEV platform and technologies that will be on the market in 20 new Lexus models by 2025, new sports and super-luxury models on the cards
Japanese luxury carmaker Lexus unveiled its LF-Z Electrified, a fully electric crossover concept car which previews forthcoming Lexus models that are scheduled to arrive within the next four years.
This is the second Lexus electrified concept to debut in recent history: In 2019 Lexus showed off the LF-30 at the Tokyo Motor Show. But unlike that very futuristic car, the LF-X looks very much primed for the reality of motoring in the next decade.
Lexus says the LF-Z shows a ‘new brand vision for Lexus and what it aims to achieve with electrification’, and that it is accelerating the development of its electrified models. By 2025, the brand says, it will have 20 new or upgraded models with more than 10 electrified models, including (battery electric vehicles (BEVs), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and hybrids. It will also offer electric versions of all of its models, and aims to have a greater sales ratio of electric vehicles than gasoline ones.
The 20 models will consist of the brands current mainstays, its sedan and SUV ranges, while also adding new types of cars which could include ‘sports models, models for chauffeur driving, and models in entirely new categories’.
BEV technology on display
Like other carmakers, Lexus has to juggle between the conversion of current combustion engine platforms, and making the next-gen of dedicated electric vehicles. The LF-Z Electrified previews the first version of the latter, as it runs on a totally new platform designed for battery power alone.
There are no specific details on the construction or layout of the platform, but it will likely be based on Toyota’s BEV platform, E-TNGA, and the car showcases the newly-developed Direct4 electric all-wheel drive system thanks to one motor on each axle, constantly varying the torque distribution. According to an image from Lexus, it looks to adopt the ‘skateboard’ layout with a long, flat battery pack in the floor of the car, and the company says this layout with a lowered centre of gravity and improved stiffness improves dynamics and refinement.
Lexus has official specs for the LF-Z: It’s 4,880mm long, 1,960mm wide, and 1,600mm tall, with a 2,950mm wheelbase, and a weight of 2.1-tonnes. Battery capacity is 90kWh, with a liquid-cooled lithium ion battery pack, a quoted WLTP range of 600km, and 150kW maximum charge rate. With a total power of 537hp and 700Nm of torque, the car can achieve 0-100km/h in 3.0 seconds, with a 200km/h top speed.
This puts the LF-Z in the same ballpark as cars like the Audi E-Tron and Jaguar I-Pace. While Lexus says that there are no plans to put the model into production directly, specs like these do indicate that a practical, real-world LF-Z could become a reality. Lexus, after all, wasn’t afraid to go from concept UX to real-life UX.
New design directions
The LF-Z presages what the next Lexus cars will look like, which is exciting. Lexus was able to transform from vanilla-invisible to angular, almost eye-poking design within a decade.
The LF-Z is a sporty crossover/SUV with coupe-styling – as is so popular these days. But its looks could easily translate onto a coupe or sedan, as the current Lexus RC and ES show.
A new design signature will be that of the overall form that ‘starts low and peaks in the rear’, giving a forward angled, ready-to-go look to the car. The wheels have been pushed out to the corners, always another recipe for a balanced, sporty appearance. There’s also a switch away from a single spindle grille and more of a ‘spindle front’, where the entire nose of the car implies the Lexus signature motif.
The rear of the car sees a lightbar encompassing a wraparound hatchback, with the Lexus name spelt out. Here’s one area where we feel Lexus could score points by going its own way, since the two features are already widely seen in everything from Kia to Skoda, and Porsche.
AI and beyond
The inside sees a new design concept named ‘tazuna’, which is Japanese for ‘rein’, as in horse riding. As a concept car, the interior does look suitably futuristic (read: probably can’t be produced at sensible cost) but there is at least emphasis on usability along with appearance. Lexus says it emphasises minimalism, such as grouping the instrument pane, AR HUD and more into one single area, allowing less distraction for the driver while operating the vehicle.
As expected of a next-gen vehicle, what you can’t see will be just as important as what you can: The LF-Z brings AI-driven voice control (for learning patterns, commands, predicting what you intend to do) and a lifestyle concierge, a digital key via smartphones, and a retracting door handle system called ‘E-Latch’. There is one feature you can find on a current car, though: The panoramic sunroof is expansive and curved and very unlikely to be a production reality, but its electrochromic dimming can already be found on Toyota’s Harrier Hybrid.