Perfect partners: E-CVT and hybrid

Optimum efficiency whatever the driving conditions: Lexus uses this statement as a criteria upon which the performance of its hybrid vehicles should be judged.

A means for delivering this promise comes from the seamless pairing of the Lexus hybrid’s petrol and electric motors with an electronically-controlled continuously variable transmission, also known as E-CVT.

What is E-CVT?

E-CVT is an intelligent transmission that has an infinite number of gear ratios at its disposal. By constantly analysing vehicle speed, road conditions, engine power and driver input, it selects the optimal (most efficient) gear ratio for that precise moment.

Epicyclic gear ratios Lexus E-CVT and hybrid

When that moment passes, it moves seamlessly and imperceptibly to the next ratio through the clever combination of planetary gears seen in the rendering above – a setup that is fundamentally different to the drive belt and conical pulley arrangement of more traditional continuously variable transmissions.

Why is E-CVT ideal for petrol-electric hybrids?

Without the constraining effect of fixed gear ratios, the engine can be operated at its most efficient speed to either propel the car or charge the batteries. And if the computer decides that the petrol motor is not needed for a time, it can be shut down and the twin-input E-CVT used to direct propulsion from the electric motors to the wheels instead.

GS transmission Lexus E-CVT and hybrid

Where available, the transmission enhances driver engagement through two means. Firstly, models with a sequential function built into the E-CVT system generate the feeling of manually changing gear ratios by providing a closer match between increases in engine and vehicle speed. This is also used to deliver stepped engine braking force under deceleration.

Secondly, models with a sport mode built into the E-CVT change the sensation of dynamic performance by increasing engine speed more rapidly during acceleration, as demonstrated in the diagram below.

Lexus E-CVT and hybrid acceleration

As a key element in the Lexus Hybrid Drive experience, we are convinced that E-CVT delivers on its promise of transferring propulsion and performance to the driving wheels with optimal efficiency. Why not try it for yourself?

More from Lexus performance:
Lexus performance: fashioned by the wind
Philosophy of Lexus ‘F’ models
Lexus says, ‘Quiet please’
Lexus champions people power
Lexus increases recycling performance
The performance of plastic
Lexus RC F revealed in Detroit
Lexus IS 300h – five-star safety performer
Performance and efficiency – how?
LFA ‘Code X’ to race at Nurburgring 24 Hours
Interview: Yukihiko Yaguchi
World debut of new Lexus RC F – first pictures
Lexus and the performance of hybrid
A closer look inside the Lexus LFA’s V10


    1. Hello Adrian
      Thanks for your post and hope you liked the article.
      That is correct, they no longer have the belt drive just meshing gears. If it helps earlier CVT’s did used to have a steel belt (like a chain) but this has now changed.
      Hope this helps and let us know if you have any other questions.

  1. Everything sounds perfect till… you have problems with this driveline. In my IS 300h I have problems with vibrations from the beginnig. Nobody can or want to help me, even warranty. I lost any hope regarding reliability od Lexus. Don’t believe? – please find such issues in internet.

    1. Hi Peter,

      Thanks for getting in touch and we are sorry to hear that you are experiencing these issues. We would recommend for you to contact your nearest Lexus Centre as they will be able to assist you further with these problems.


    1. Hi Tomek,

      Thanks for getting in touch and we apologise for the delay in replying. We can confirm that it has an E-CVT.


  2. Hello. Adrian Alder here again. Now have a UX250h. Does the engine have fuel injected into the manifold to help clean the engine. I am worried about the EG R becoming choked.

    1. Hello Adrian,
      Thank you for contacting us.
      We have checked with our technical team, and the engine in the UX250h has both direct and port type fuel injection.

    1. Hello Jim,
      Thank you for contacting us.
      Our technical team would advise you to drive your vehicle in normal mode in order to check this.

    1. Hello Salil,
      Thank you for contacting us.
      Please contact Lexus in your region for specification information relating to your specific vehicle.

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