Lexus’ electrified future

With Lexus’ first dedicated battery electric vehicle, the UX300e, nearly on our shores, we take a look at the electrified road beyond 2021 for the luxury carmaker.

Since the launch 16 years ago of the RX400h ― the world's first luxury petrol-electric hybrid model ― Lexus has sold nearly two million electrified vehicles in approximately 90 countries.

The next step for the Japanese carmaker begins shortly with the arrival of the new UX300e compact crossover: Lexus’ first full battery-electric vehicle EV, and one that builds on all the attributes of the popular entry-level UX range with an emissions-free powertrain.

Longstanding leadership in hybrid electric vehicle development means Lexus’ in-vehicle systems, such as the power control unit, battery management system, and electric motor have been tried and tested over many millions of kilometres. The UX300e's high-output motor will provide a natural-yet-brisk acceleration character, and the high-capacity batteries located directly underneath the floor of the cabin deliver a low centre of gravity and up to 400km (NEDC) of driving range from a full charge.

In heralding a significant change for the brand, the UX300e represents only the first of several steps.

Within the next four years, Lexus plans to introduce 20 new or improved models, including more than 10 electrified models incorporating pure-electric BEV, and plug-in hybrid electric powertrains. Lexus aims to offer electric variants of all its models by 2025, with the sales ratio of electric vehicles exceeding that of internal combustion-powered vehicles.

By 2050, Lexus aims to achieve carbon neutrality throughout the lifecycle of its entire model line-up – from the manufacturing of materials, parts, and vehicles, to vehicle logistics, to the final disposal and recycling of older vehicles. Lexus says it has a clear mission to achieve carbon neutrality, reducing the environmental impact of its manufacturing processes.

So, what will the Lexus range look like in 30 years’ time? While laying out its sustainable roadmap for the future, rather refreshingly the marque has also been very keen to point out that the pure ‘fun of driving’ remains central to its aspirations. In addition to strengthening and expanding its core sedan and SUV models, sports models will still play a part in Lexus’ electrified future.

Earlier this year, the manufacturer gave the world a taste of what might be coming next.

The LF-Z Electrified is a BEV concept vehicle that Lexus says is symbolic of its forthcoming brand transformation and incorporates driving performance, styling, and advanced technology set to be in place by 2025.

To realise the significant evolution of basic vehicle performance using electrification technology, the LF-Z Electrified adopts a BEV-dedicated platform. The concept’s striking sculpted exterior strongly accentuates the uniqueness of Lexus design and expresses the dynamic driving experience delivered by the LF-Z Electrified’s high-output electric motors.

Helping deliver this on-road engagement is a new four-wheel driving force control technology Lexus have called DIRECT4. This new system will use the instant responsiveness of an electric motor's driving force to freely control a vehicle's four wheels for superior and highly flexible driving performance. By fusing the electrification technologies and vehicle motion control technologies it has developed over time, Lexus aims to evolve driving performance in a way that better connects the driver with their vehicle.

Naturally, the innovation extends inside the LF-Z Electrified’s cabin. To provide a unique EV driving experience, the interior is equipped with a ‘Tazuna’ cockpit and features an open, minimalist design. The interior embodies an elevated level of Lexus' human-centred approach; an ethos that has been a foundation of the Lexus brand since 1989.

Also, through dialogue with the driver and based on having learned the driver's preferences and behavioural traits, the car’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems act as a lifestyle concierge, proposing routes and restaurant reservations, among other things.

While this sounds impressively futuristic, many of the ideas in the LF-Z Electrified have been formed over time. Some of the concepts Lexus’ future models will use are just around the corner and can be seen in the UX300e.

For example, when it arrives the Lexus UX300e will boast one of the quietest cabins in its class, as befits the sound management heritage of the manufacturer. While EVs are naturally quiet, the UX300e adds insulation beyond just the battery and suppresses outside noises such as wind or pebbles which would be otherwise noticeable in the absence of an engine and transmission. Lexus’ focus on sound management lets drivers enjoy comfortable tranquillity in the cabin.

Lexus’ engineers also focused on sound while driving to provide a natural feeling. The new model’s Active Sound Control (ASC) transmits natural ambient sounds to allow for understanding of driving conditions and provides a natural feeling for the cabin's occupants.

The Lexus UX300e will also offer drivers the latest in connected car technology. By linking to a smartphone using a dedicated app, drivers can check the battery state of charge and driving range. Charging controls are also included such as timer function to inform the owner when the vehicle will be fully charged or to schedule the charging according to when the vehicle is expected to be driven next. The app also allows the owner to remotely control various convenience functions such as the air conditioning system, and window defrosters.

Lexus’ road to an electrified future begins right here.

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