Lexus LF-30 Electrified

The LF-30 Electrified Concept, Lexus’ newest design study, stopped international media and public visitors alike in their tracks at last year’s Tokyo Motor Show.

So, what did it take behind-the-scenes to create such a radical showcase for extreme design language and avantgarde technologies? Lexus has invited us to peek behind the screen.

Although controversial in its space-age lines, the Lexus LF-30 Electrified mobility concept drew substantial global attention when it was unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show late last year. 

But obviously, every single bit of attention was intentional. In Lexus’ own words, the LF-30 Electrified Concept representa design statement that embodies the brand’s future vision of electrification, foreshadowing vehicles comprising the Lexus Electrified mobility portfolio by 2030. 
 
The LF-30 Electrified was actually created outside of Japan, at a facility called Toyota Europe Design Development, which is also known as ED².  

Nestled in the hills near Nice, France, and headed by Ian CartabianoED² represents one of four main global Toyota/Lexus design studios, playing the lead role in designing the most recent Toyota Yaris and C- HR. The LF-30 Electrified Concept marked the first time the Europe-based studio was tasked with developing a concept for the carmaker’s ‘home’ motor show. 
 
“It was a great honour to be asked to undertake such an important project because never before has the European design team been asked to produce a show car for the Tokyo Motor Showit was a huge responsibility, says Cartabiano. 

The ED² team decided it was vital to start with the principles of Lexus’ design philosophy, L-Finesse. L-Finesse has served as the mantra for the brand’s design language since its introduction in 2003. The philosophy serves to identify Lexus as a global brand with Japanese roots. From there, the ED² implemented what it calls ‘Yet’ philosophy into the soul of the LF-30 Electrified Concept. 
  
‘Yet’ philosophy? According to Cartabiano, ‘Yet’ describes how seemingly contradictory characteristics can combine to form a symbiotically balanced outcome. The LF- 30 Electrified Concept is filled with examples of this, such as “comfortable yet sporty,” “handcrafted yet high tech,” “smooth yet powerful”, and “flowing yet stable.” Cartabiano says the LF-30 Electrified has also heralded another new term, something he refers to as “Seamless Emotion.” 
  
“Seamless Emotion is the brand’s vision on the way it will implement ‘electrified’ design language for the future.” he says.  

“It’s all about seamlessly bringing in the elements that can make EVs cool. Not just in styling terms, but also performance, comfort, and tech, bringing them all together in a seamless manner. 

“Our goal was to look to the future for inspiration and find the next authentic luxury performance image. What was absolutely crucial was that Lexus Design in Japan asked us to ‘go for it,’ giving us the freedom to dream the entire project from start to finish, with no restrictions whatsoever. And we went for it.” 

Cartabiano wanted the LF-30 Electrified to be, above all, provocative – to be able to turn heads and create a visual impact on everyone who laid eyes on it. 
  
“It is a polarising, provocative design. Not everybody is going to love it, but that’s okay because that’s our brand identity,” he says.  

Thanks to the flexibility provided by the EV platform, chief exterior designer, Hideaki Lida, was able to incorporate totally new design ideas into the vehicle. 
  
“We have a new powertrain that allowed me to create a new profile. I wanted to use the EV platform to create something that would break the tradition of a conventional luxury sedan, one that conveyed power, agility, and luxury,” explains Lida. 
  
The proportions of the LF-30 Electrified are characterised by a profile that designers call the Speed/Lounge Profile. Intended to maximise the layout provided by the EV drivetrain, it breaks convention with today’s sedans to allow the vehicle to achieve the best of both worlds: sport and luxury. 
  
“The front of the vehicle expresses speed, while the rear suggests a comfortable lounge. The middle of the LF-30 is lifted, but the roofline remains sleek and the tyres planted firmly to the ground. And we wanted to ensure there was plenty of space for passengers: the LF-30 is the length of the LS flagship sedan and possesses the couple distance of the LM luxury minivan,” Lida continues. 
  
While the LF-30 lacks a grille, the brand’s signature ‘spindle’ theme is represented in the vehicle’s overall architecture. A keen eye will spot the subtle shape of a spindle in the headlight wings and front fenders flares at the front of the vehicle. Also, when the vehicle is in autonomous mode, a soft light highlights the spindle shape integrated into the front fascia. 

Lida says that much attention was paid to details like the integrated wheel/tyre system – the first of its kind – the turbine fins that cool the battery, and the motors that are visible through the wheel spokes. 

The concept features a large ‘glider’ door, which gets its name from the forward-mounted pivots that allows the door to open and close like the wings of a glider. But Lida’s favourite detail is the charger, located at the rear of the vehicle. 
  
“It’s a cordless system and, when charging, a series of lights mimic water drops going up from the ground into the vehicle,” he says. 

“We also used water in the wheel design, in the way the spokes seamlessly assimilate with the tyre. Water has an eco-friendly, sustainable image, so we thought it was appropriate to use it as theme for this vehicle,” he said. 

Inside the LF-30 Electrified’s cabin, there are plenty of thematic alignments with that of the exterior. 
  
“We wanted to offer a direct connection experience for the driver,” says Alex Gommier, Chief Interior Designer. “We call this the ‘Tazuna Cockpit.” 
  
“Tazuna refers to how a single rein can be used to achieve mutual understanding between horse and rider. We also included steering controller-mounted switches, a gesture-control system and a head-up display to create a cockpit that enables drivers to focus on driving, even while operating different controls inside the car.” 
  
Elsewhere inside the space age interior, Gommier and his team researched the newest and finest first class airliner cabins and incorporated the best of what they found. As a result, all switches and controls are placed within easy reach and a gesture-control large-screen display for the passenger adds extra convenience. 

Rear seats use artificial muscle technology to mould to their occupant’s physique, and feature modes such as reclining, relaxation, and alert functions. Those occupying the rear cabin are treated to the unique Sky Gate, a gesture-controlled display window that uses AR (Augmented Reality) to display information such as a realistic star-filled sky or favourite videos and even navigation. 
  
“We wanted to bring the augmented navigation experience to the rear passengers,” Gommier explains. 

“We borrowed from the ancient sailor’s ability to navigate the sea by using the stars in the sky. When you look up at the Sky Gate, you can see the star map, but it can also transform into a modern-day navigation map, the same as one displayed on the driver’s monitor.” 

The concept car’s interior also boasts sustainable materials to illustrate the LF-30 Electrified’s eco-friendly presence. Yakisugi (charred cedar), a traditional Japanese material, covers the floor and steering controller, while recycled metal was processed into fibres to create the pleated door trim. 

Like Lida and the cordless charger, Gommier has a favourite component in the cabin; what he refers to as the “phygital control”. This round toggle, located between the rear seats, operates the Sky Gate. It’s composed of a variety of upscale materials, including gold for the casing and a coal (carbon) insert that features a unique Kintsugi (gold lacquer) effect. 
  
“The LF-30 Electrified truly represents a leap forward for Lexus design as we prepare for the coming steep evolution of the automobile. I believe we have created a vehicle that provides a highly imagined and fun glimpse into what the future may hold,” Cartabiano concludes. 

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