Technology has made it easy for automotive public relations officials to become smart alecks. Lexus is teasing a new hybrid concept car it plans to bring to the Sydney Motor Show by revealing nothing but a taillight. When did the car industry become the movie industry?
According to Lexus, that taillight is attached to a new coupe with a hybrid powertrain that develops 500 horsepower and features all-wheel drive. That’s very tantalizing, and kind of explains why Lexus wants to keep the car under wraps until the proper moment.
The piece, which looks like an inverted “L” and seems to be filled with backward, lowercase “ls” looks almost identical to the taillight of the LF-LC concept from the 2012 Detroit auto show. At the time, Lexus did not specify what kind of hybrid powertrain was under the LF-LC’s voluptuous hood, or how much power it produced. It was assumed that the LF-LC was rear-wheel drive.
In fact, the Sydney concept will probably be a new version of the LF-LC. Lexus said the new concept would be a “further development of a vehicle shown at the Detroit auto show earlier this year.” The LF-LC was Lexus’ main attraction at Detroit and, given the resemblance, it seems safe to assume that an evolution of the LF-LC will be debuting in Sydney.
Lexus may be taking a similar tack to its rollout of the LFA supercar. That car was gradually revealed in multiple concepts, each very different but sharing the same general dimensions and front-engine, rear-wheel drive layout.
Similarly, Lexus could be experimenting with the LF-LC’s design theme, perhaps trying out a different body style like a convertible or two-seater coupe.
With a second concept debuting in Sydney, could Lexus be moving the LF-LC closer to production? Lexus’ claim of 500 hp means there could be a real engine under the hood or, at the very least, that the company is thinking about it.
A hybrid sports coupe could be just what Lexus needs to fulfill Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda’s mandate for more exciting cars. It would also give the brand a stronger identity, giving it more exclusive credentials and distracting people from the fact that most of the cars it sells are rebadged Toyotas.
As a hybrid, a production sports coupe would be a perfect poster child for Lexus. The company has already installed hybrids as the top powertrains in its LS full-size and GS midsize sedans, in lieu of thirsty V12s and V8s. If Lexus is so committed to that idea, why not do the same with a performance car?
We may be getting ahead of ourselves, though. The Sydney concept is just that, a concept, although it could be closer to production-ready than the original LF-LC.
More information will be released closer to the mystery hybrid’s debut at the Sydney Motor Show in October. Further hints could come out of the Paris Motor Show in September as well.