Lexus executives have revealed the manufacturer’s route map for becoming an all-electric luxury vehicle brand. It is a strategy that involves a new generation of all-electric vehicles, as well as the application of innovative design principles and advanced new technologies that we believe will change the future of cars.
“Lexus has been a technology pioneer ever since the brand was founded,” commented Lexus Europe vice-president Pascal Ruch. “And 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 capitalise on the opportunities of downsizing and weight reductions in structural parts to offer more versatile packaging. Meanwhile, advances in electrification technologies will improve the connection between car and driver, giving greater comfort, confidence and control at all times.
Latest all-electric concepts signal future model thinking
The recently unveiled Lexus LF-ZC and Lexus LF-ZL concept cars demonstrate how we intend to maximise the potential offered by electrification and innovative technologies to deliver new mobility experiences.
The LF-ZC previews a new production saloon scheduled for launch in 2026. It offers sleek proportions, a low centre of gravity, spacious cabin and a design that blends functionality with pleasing aesthetics. The LF-ZL (lead image) proposes a flagship SUV in which the driving experience can be tailored to each individual user’s preferences. The use of bamboo as a signature material in the cabin references Japanese tradition but also reflects a sustainable approach to construction.
Both concepts evolve the Lexus identity with a new Provocative Simplicity design theme, which combines refined functionality with beauty to create a striking presence. The intelligent, fully digital cockpit gives the driver quick access to controls in an immersive environment. The central feature is a yoke to operate our steer-by-wire technology, while vehicle functions are consolidated on small screens either side: operational controls on the left and convenience features 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
Our new Arene operating system will open new possibilities with regard to entertainment and connectivity. The voice recognition system uses AI technology to provide a butler-like service with swift command responses and personalised, flexible suggestions. Arene will even be able to learn the driver’s routines, preferred apps and functions and activate them automatically.
All-electric driving performance
Lexus engineers will leverage the powerful acceleration characteristic of BEVs and smooth drive force characteristics of our latest Direct4 all-wheel drive technology to enhance the pleasure of driving and that feeling of being at one with your vehicle. Direct4 constantly balances drive torque between the front and rear axles according to the load on each wheel. This ensures optimal traction in all driving conditions, delivering linear acceleration, improved cornering performance and a stable vehicle posture. When combined with by-wire steering, future Lexus BEVs will offer a more intuitive steering experience, especially across winding roads.
Arene will be able to change how an all-electric vehicle feels and behaves with different driving modes and access to over-the-air software options. For example, the driver could adjust the level of sensory experience, enhancing vibrations and even raising or changing the sound the car makes.
Modular vehicle structure
The next generation of all-electric Lexus vehicles will use a new, simplified modular structure that divides the body into three modules: front centre and rear. This will be made possible through gigacasting, a system that reduces the number of parts to drastically reduce production time and accelerate the development of different vehicle types.
A gigacasted module can be produced in less than two minutes, while the modular structure creates additional benefits of higher rigidity and reduced weight, which directly contribute to natural-feeling vehicle dynamics. Consideration will be given to repair costs, ensuring that minor accidents do no 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
For the next few years, Lexus will continue to offer multiple electrified powertrain options in Europe: hybrid electric, plug-in hybrid electric and battery electric models. New vehicles will be introduced in each of these three categories to expand and diversify the Lexus range. All will benefit from powertrain enhancements and continuous improvements in battery technology. In fact, Lexus will be the first adopter of new battery technologies, including a new lithium-ion performance battery that is expected to offer a 10-80% recharging time of about 20 minutes and a cruising range of about 500 miles (WLTP cycle). A lower cost battery will also be made available, increasing customer choice.
In spring 2024 the all-electric RZ range will grow to include a new front-wheel drive version. Later that year, our One Motion Grip steer-by-wire system will be offered as an option for the first time. Also planned for the future is a system that replicates the feel and operation of a manual transmission for BEVs, including engine sound and vibrations.
Lexus growth in Europe
By the end of 2023, we expect sales in Europe to reach about 74,000 units, an increase of about 50% over last year’s performance. This success is founded on a strong model range that has been almost completely renewed during the past two years. The momentum is expected to continue in 2024, propelling us towards our ambition of six-digit sales in Europe.
In this regard, two all-new models will help take Lexus into new market segments: the flagship LM people carrier and the LBX small urban crossover. The former takes passenger comfort to an unprecedented level, while the latter (see image above) challenges the established luxury car hierarchy by proving that prestige features, quality and driving experience can be delivered in a smaller package. These models demonstrate our growth ambitions and desire to push boundaries with vehicles designed to engage with new consumer demographics.