LF-Z Electrified concept points way forward to Lexus’ EV future

The Lexus LF-Z Electrified has been unveiled as a concept battery electric vehicle (BEV) symbolising Lexus’ brand transformation and forms the proving ground for production-ready technology set to be realised by 2025.

The 400kW/700Nm LF-Z Electrified uses Artificial Intelligence to learn the driver's preferences and behavioural characteristics, provides constant support to the driver through advanced voice recognition.

The concept uses DIRECT4, a new all-wheel drive technology from Lexus, which individually controls the driving force of the car’s four wheels, enabling styling that evokes the image of dynamic driving in which the distribution of driving force is linearly shifted.

Unveiled in late-March 2021, the Lexus LF-Z Electrified is a concept battery electric vehicle (BEV) symbolising the Lexus brand transformation. To deliver the significant evolution of vehicle performance using electrification technology, which is the aim of the Lexus Electrified vision, the LF-Z Electrified adopts a dedicated BEV platform.

It features a new four-wheel driving force control technology known as DIRECT4, which uses the instant responsiveness of an electric motor's driving force to individually control each wheel for superior and highly flexible driving performance.

By fusing the electrification technologies and vehicle motion control technologies that Lexus has long cultivated, a core aim is to evolve driving performance in a way that better connects the driver with their vehicle.

Drawing from advanced lithium-ion battery technology, the LF-Z Electrified realises a maximum 600km cruising range [WLTP] on a single charge - combined with 400kW of power, 700Nm of torque and standstill to 100km/h performance in 3.0 seconds.

Lexus says the sculpted exterior of the LF-Z Electrified accentuates the uniqueness of the carmaker’s design philosophy and expresses a dynamic and agile driving sensation delivered by high-output electric motors. To provide a 'uniquely BEV' driving experience, the interior is equipped with a Tazuna cockpit and features a minimalist design. The interior embodies an elevated level of the human-centred Lexus approach – an ethos that has been a foundation of the Lexus brand since 1989.

At the rear of the concept vehicle, a clean and simple horizontal design combines with the moulding that emphasises the projecting wheels to express a powerful stance in support of a torque-strong driving force. Also, horizontally displaying ‘LEXUS’ in the continuous slender rear combination lamp contributes to styling that, along with the front of the vehicle, symbolises the next generation of Lexus.

Through dialogue with the driver and based on having learned the driver's preferences and behavioural traits, Artificial Intelligence (AI) comes to life by acting as a lifestyle concierge – proposing routes and making restaurant reservations, among others. By enhancing safety and security along the way, AI enriches the mobility experience.

By orienting the 90-Kilowatt hour (kWh) lithium-ion battery assembly longitudinally under the floor of the vehicle, the chassis becomes more rigid and the centre of gravity of the LF-Z Electrified is lowered for agile dynamics. In addition, this design helps mitigate vibrations and unpleasant noises from entering the passenger cabin. Lexus says its signature quietness and ride comfort has evolved dramatically yet remains a core focus in all models.

The new four-wheel drive force control technology, DIRECT4, allows the drive force of the high-torque motors to be controlled individually, enabling the vehicle's posture to be finely controlled according to human senses and inputs. In addition, by controlling the front and rear drive wheels independently, the system can provide the appropriate drive system – front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, or all-wheel drive – for each driving situation. The system controls the distribution of driving force through the seamless orchestration and calculation of accelerator pedal application and steering wheel operation, resulting in powerful acceleration and exhilarating cornering performance that aligns to the driver's intentions.

The use of steer-by-wire eliminates the need for a mechanical connection through the steering shaft, resulting in a more direct response between steering operation and driving force. This enables the vehicle to turn with a reduced steering angle – and greater precision – in response to driving conditions.

To articulate a key characteristic of the Lexus ethos – a human centred approach to decision making – the cockpit was designed based on the new concept of Tazuna ("tazuna" is Japanese for "rein"). Inspired by the relationship between horse and rider, who communicate through a single rein, steering wheel-mounted switches and the vehicle's head-up display have been highly coordinated to create a space in which various functions, such as the navigation system, audio system, and driving mode selection, can be performed while concentrating on driving and without movement of the driver's line of sight or need to operate complicated switches.

While the augmented-reality head-up display, gauges, touch display, and other information-provision functions are grouped into a single module, driving system functions are concentrated around the steering wheel. This suggests the direction of next-generation Lexus interior styling, with expanded forward visibility and the driver being naturally invited to look forward.

Lexus says the use of a digital key will allow family and friends to access the car without having to hand over a conventional key, in addition to operating the vehicle with a smartphone, such as opening and closing the door locks. Also, by enabling service providers to access the car via the digital key, it will be possible to provide vehicle-linked services such as package delivery to the car or car sharing, making life with a car even richer.

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