After a slow start, established luxury brands like Audi, Jaguar, and Porsche are launching sedans and SUVs that compete directly with the Tesla Model S and Model X. But Lexus may take a different approach with its first production electric car, according to Autocar. The magazine reports that the first all-electric Lexus may be a small hatchback designed for use in cities.
At the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show, Lexus will unveil a “city-friendly” electric hatchback concept, which could take inspiration from 2015’s LF-SA concept (pictured above), reports Autocar. Comments from Lexus chief engineer Koji Sato to the magazine indicate that this concept car could preview a future production model.
“We feel that our future could resemble this design,” Sato said.
If Lexus really does follow up the LF-SA with a second electric city-car concept, that would indicate strong interest in the idea within Lexus. Pascal Ruch, head of Lexus in Europe, previously said the automaker was looking into launching a smaller model to slot below the UX crossover. Instead of competing directly with Tesla, such a car would compete against the BMW i3.
Lexus parent Toyota has already said that it will develop electric cars, but hasn’t discussed any specific plans for electric Lexus models. Toyota was initially resistant to battery-powered cars, focusing on hybrids and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles instead. But hydrogen fuel-cell infrastructure hasn’t developed fast enough, and Toyota needs more zero-emission vehicles to meet stricter emissions standards, particularly in China. So Japan’s largest automaker is taking another look at batteries.
Other automakers may have a head start, but Toyota is trying to leapfrog them in battery technology. Toyota wants to use solid-state batteries, which are supposed to offer greater performance than the lithium-ion batteries used in today’s electric cars. BMW and Volkswagen have invested in solid-state battery startups, but Toyota is the first to confirm use of solid-state batteries in a production car. Fisker also plans to use solid-state batteries, but it’s a small startup that hasn’t launched any cars yet.
Any new battery technology developed by Toyota would likely be shared with Lexus. The luxury brand could also get some unique tech. Sato previously told Digital Trends that Lexus was investigating in-wheel electric motors, although he stressed at the time that the technology was not ready for production.
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