Lexus used the 2023 Tokyo auto show as the backdrop to preview some next-generation electric vehicles and technology. The highlight was the reveal of the LF-ZC concept, a sleek hatch that Lexus said will enter production in 2026.
The concept, whose name stands for “Lexus Future Zero-emission Catalyst,” measures 187 inches long, making it about the size of the current Lexus IS compact sedan. Internal space is comparable to a larger car however, due to the packaging advantages of its dedicated EV platform.
The platform is a modular design that will also be used by Toyota. EVs based on the platforms will feature bodies formed via megacasting, where casting of small individual parts that are welded together is skipped in favor of casting only a handful of major parts. In the case of the new Lexus EVs, there will be three main parts, one each for the front, center, and rear of the body. Pioneered by Tesla, the process simplifies production and also increases rigidity.
The batteries that will initially be used in the platform will feature a prismatic structure, a design that helps to improve efficiency of the battery compared to cylindrical structures which provide a better balance between efficiency and power delivery. Hiroki Nakajima, Toyota’s chief technology officer, provided a hint at the company’s targets for its next-generation EVs during a presentation in April. He said the more efficient batteries are expected to increase range by a factor of two compared to the automaker’s current EVs. Lexus’ sole EV in the U.S., the RZ crossover, has a range of just 220 miles.
The range of future Lexus EVs will also be aided by aerodynamic designs. In the case of the production LF-ZC, the aim is a drag coefficient of less than 0.2 cd, which would make it one of the most aerodynamically efficient cars on the market. As a result, Lexus EVs will feature styling distinct to any new models still equipped with a gas engine, the automaker said.
Another feature demonstrated in the LF-ZC concept is Toyota’s upcoming operating system known as Arene. The OS, which will have its own apps but also be open to apps from third parties, is set to launch around 2025 and will feature a version developed for Lexus EVs. Lexus said the system will have an AI that, among other things, will learn a driver’s driving style and adjust performance characteristics to suit, such as acceleration and handling.
Other technologies pegged for the upcoming EVs include steer-by-wire and all-wheel drive with sophisticated torque-vectoring systems.
Lexus also used the Tokyo auto show to present an electric flagship SUV concept called the LF-ZL, which is also likely to spawn a future production model.
Before the arrival of its next-generation EVs, Lexus will introduce more EVs based on its current technology. One of these is expected to be a three-row SUV.
The automaker ultimately plans to make zero-emission vehicles, including vehicles designed to run on hydrogen, account for 100% of its sales in the U.S., Europe, and China by 2030, and the rest of the world by 2035.
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