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?

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  1. Hello,

    Can you please confirm what gearbox (CVT or E CVT) is fitted to a 2021 onwards NX 450 H and 2021 onwards RX450h as I am interested in possibly buying one depending on gearboxu

    1. Hi John, thanks for your comment.

      Both the current NX and RX feature E-CVT.
      If this is something you are unsure of, the RX500h may be an option for you as this has a more traditional high performance automatic transmission.


      Lexus UK

  2. Hello,
    Could you please tell me for E-CVT if the gear can be shift from “N” to “D” while the vehicle is in move? Is it harmful to planet gears system?
    Thank you.

    1. Hi Cagri, thanks for your comment.

      This is possible, although not advisable. Whilst it won’t cause major damage to the system, it is of no benefit either. Unlike a combustion engine, you will not benefit from ‘coasting’ as the vehicle recharges through regenerative braking.


      Lexus UK

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