LEXUS EMBRACES INNOVATION AND ADVANCED TECHNOLOGIES TO BECOME AN ALL-ELECTRIC LUXURY BRAND
- Lexus details new technologies that will accelerate its transition to a 100% battery electric vehicle brand
- Annual Kenshiki forum presents new vehicle concepts, including forerunner of a new production model due for launch in 2026
- New Arene Operating System will create intelligent connections between driver and car and enable personalisation of each vehicle’s driving character and feel
- Gigacasting will simplify vehicle structures, improving dynamic performance and allowing for greater design freedom
- In the next few years, Lexus will continue to offer multiple electrified powertrain options in Europe, including hybrid electric, plug-in hybrid electric and battery electric models
- RZ line-up to be expanded with FWD version in the spring of 2024; development of RZ with One Motion Grip steer-by-wire system to be completed by the end of 2024
- Lexus continues to expand its product range with all-new LM luxury mover and LBX compact crossover connecting with new customer demographics
Lexus has set out its strategy for a new generation of all-electric vehicles, applying design principles and new technologies that will change the future of cars. At its annual Kenshiki forum in Brussels, the company gave a deeper insight into its roadmap for becoming a 100% battery electric vehicle (BEV) brand globally by 2035, and even earlier in Europe, by 2030 if market conditions allow.
Pascal Ruch, Vice-President, Lexus Europe and Value Chain, said: “Lexus has been a technology pioneer ever since the brand was founded in 1989. It has a proud heritage of challenging the conventions of the luxury car market and consistently delivering new value to customers. When it comes to electrification, we will again push boundaries in the premium automotive world. We will develop a new modular vehicle structure and new-generation batteries, not only to improve the performance of our BEVs but also, and perhaps most importantly, to reinvent driving pleasure.
“There will be a revolution in software too, which will allow us to design vehicles with the highest degree of personalisation, truly making luxury personal for each of our customers.”
The next generation of Lexus BEVs will use the opportunities of downsizing and weight reductions in structural parts to offer more versatile packaging. Advances in electrification technologies will enable further evolution of the Lexus Driving Signature – a constant, rewarding connection between driver and car that gives comfort, confidence and control at all times.
LF-ZL and LF-ZC concepts signal future model thinking
The recently unveiled Lexus LF-ZC and LF-ZL concept cars demonstrate how Lexus intends to maximise the potential offered by electrification and innovative technologies to deliver new mobility experiences.
The LF-ZC (Lexus Future Zero-emission Catalyst), which made its European debut at the Kenshiki event, previews a new Lexus production sedan scheduled for launch in 2026. It reaps the benefits of Lexus’ electrification experience, with sleek proportions, a low centre of gravity, spacious cabin and a design that blends functionality with pleasing aesthetics.
The LF-ZL (Lexus Future Zero-emission Luxury) is a study for a flagship battery electric SUV that enables seamless connection between people, mobility and society. The driving experience can be tailored to each individual user’s preferences and interaction with the vehicle will reach a higher level with the car making personalised suggestions, based on the driver’s style and habits. The use of bamboo as the signature material in the cabin references Japanese tradition, but also reflects a sustainable approach – industrial use of this fast-growing plant is essential to prevent over-growing and protect nature.
Both concepts combine functionality with beauty with a new “provocative simplicity” design theme. This evolves the Lexus identity, using refined, simple design to create a striking presence.
The fully digital intelligent cockpit gives the driver quick access to controls in an immersive environment. The central feature is a steering yoke to operate Lexus’ exclusive One Motion Grip steer-by-wire technology. Functions are consolidated on small digital screens either side of the driver. Operational controls such as shifts, safety and driver assistance (ADAS) systems and drive mode selection are located on the left-hand pad, while convenience features such as audio, climate control phone and AI functions are grouped on the right. The concepts are also fitted with digital rear-view and side mirrors and an ultra-wide monitor on the front passenger side for accessing entertainment and mobility apps.
Arene operating system
Lexus’ new Arene Operating System will open new entertainment and connectivity possibilities. Using AI (artificial intelligence), the voice recognition system will provide swift response to commands and be able to make personalised, flexible suggestions – comparable to having a personal butler on hand. The system will even be able to learn the driver’s routines and preferred apps and functions and activate them automatically, without having to be asked.
Lexus will leverage the specific performance characteristics of BEVs, such as the powerful acceleration and the smooth drive force control provided by its DIRECT4 all-wheel drive technology to enhance the pleasure of driving and make the driver feel at one with their car.
DIRECT4, already featured on the all-electric Lexus RZ and RX 500 performance hybrid, constantly balances the drive torque between the front and rear axles, according to the load on each wheel. This ensures optimal traction in all driving conditions, with more linear acceleration, improved cornering performance and a more stable vehicle posture. With a steer-by-wire system, future Lexus BEVs will offer a more intuitive steering experience, especially when driving on winding roads.
The new Arene Operating System will change how the vehicle feels and behaves with different driving modes – luxury car or performance car, for example. Going further, the driver can raise the level of sensory experience, changing the car’s sound and vibrations. These features will be made possible with the adoption of a steer-by-wire system and over-the-air access to software options.
Modular vehicle structure
The next generation of Lexus BEVs will use a new modular structure that divides the vehicle body into three parts – front, centre and rear. This will be made possible by using gigacasting, a system that gives greater freedom in vehicle form. Reducing the number of parts – the front and rear sections of a vehicle structure currently comprise around 175 separate elements – will drastically reduce production time and give the flexibility for speedy development of different vehicle types. The front and rear modules can each be produced in less than two minutes. The modular structure will also being the benefits of higher rigidity and weight reduction, which in turn will contribute to linear, natural-feeling vehicle dynamics. Consideration will also be given to repair costs, ensuring that minor accidents do not result in high repair bills for customers.
The manufacturing process will also be transformed with cars moving autonomously through each stage of production on a self-driving assembly line.
Multi-technology approach and product developments
In the near-term, through to 2026, Lexus will continue with its multi-technology electrification approach, based on three vehicle types: models offering multiple powertrain options, such as the UX, NX and RX SUVs; BEVs using Lexus’ current global architecture platform, such as the RZ; and BEVs constructed using gigacasting on a next-generation platform, such as the future model based on the LF-ZC concept. Over the next few years, vehicles will be introduced in each of these three categories, including BEVs, to expand and diversify the Lexus range.
They will also all benefit from powertrain enhancements and continuous improvements in battery technology. Lexus will be the first adopter of new battery technologies, including a new lithium-ion performance battery that is expected to offer a 10 to 80% recharging time of about 20 minutes and a cruising range of about 800 km (WLTP cycle). A lower-cost battery will also be made available, increasing customer choice.
In spring 2024, the RZ range will grow to include a new front-wheel drive version. Later, the option of One Motion Grip steer-by-wire will be offered for the first time. Also planned for the future is system replicating the feel and operation of a manual transmission for BEVs – another dimension in Lexus’ mission to focus on driving pleasure. From the outside, the vehicle will be as quiet as any other BEV, but at the controls the driver will experience all the sensations of a manual transmission vehicle, including engine sound and vibrations.
Lexus growth in Europe
This year, the company expects its European new car sales to reach about 74,000 units. This is an increase of about 50% on 2022’s performance, making Lexus one of the fastest-growing premium brands. It will also be a new record total for the region, excluding Russia.
This success is founded on a strong model range that has been almost completely renewed during the past two years. The line-up includes three all-new models in the critical D and E-premium SUV segments – the NX, RX and RZ – offering hybrid electric, plug-in hybrid electric and battery electric powertrain options.
The momentum is expected to continue in 2024, propelling the company towards its future ambition of six-digit sales in Europe. Lexus has revealed two all-new models that are taking the brand into new market segments: the new flagship LM “Luxury Mover” people-carrier and the LBX, the company’s first small urban crossover. The LM takes passenger comfort to an unprecedented level while the LBX challenges the established luxury car hierarchy, proving that prestige features, quality and driving experience can be delivered in a small car package. Additionally, a new-generation GX will be introduced in eastern markets, a large SUV offering supreme luxury with exceptional off-road capabilities.
These models demonstrate Lexus’ growth ambitions and desire to continue to push boundaries with vehicles designed to engage with new consumer demographics.