Skip to main content

The first fully electric Lexus production car may not go after Tesla

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.

Stephen Edelstein
Stephen is a freelance automotive journalist covering all things cars. He likes anything with four wheels, from classic cars…
2022 Chevy Bolt EV and Bolt EUV: More electric cars to love
A Chevy Volt parked on the beach.

As the first mass-produced electric car with more than 200 miles of range and a price below $40,000, the first-generation Chevrolet Bolt EV was a giant leap toward a zero-emission future. Chevy can't rest on its laurels, though. With rivals launching their own mass-market electric cars—encouraged by stricter global emissions standards—the Bolt EV was in need of an update.

General Motors didn't just update the Bolt EV, though, it added a new SUV-like variant alongside the existing hatchback. The 2022 Chevrolet Bolt EUV will go on sale alongside the 2022 Chevrolet Bolt EV this summer. The Bolt EUV is also the first non-Cadillac model to get GM's Super Cruise driver-assist tech, while the Bolt EV gets a restyling inside and out.

Read more
Watch as Sony starts to test its Vision-S electric car on European roads
sony begins road testing vision s electric car prototype

Sony introduced its first car, the Vision-S, as a futuristic prototype at CES 2020. Many tech companies talk about branching out into the automotive industry, but Sony stepped in quietly and without notice, beating even Apple to the punch. Not one to rest on its laurels, it has started putting the electric sedan through its paces in Europe.

Building a concept car is difficult and expensive, but making one that runs, drives, stops, and can be legally driven on European roads increases the challenge exponentially. Sony didn't choose the easiest location in which to begin testing the Vision-S on public roads, either. It let the prototype loose in Austria, so test drivers need to deal with narrow mountain roads, headlight-high snow, and freezing temperatures that take a big toll on the car's systems.

Read more
Apple’s electric car may be at least five years away, report says
electric car plugged in

After fresh reports of an "Apple Car" began circulating in late December, analysts quickly advised people to pump the brakes on expectations. That may have been justified, as a new Bloomberg report claims Apple will take "at least half a decade" to launch the car, which is widely expected to be electric, possibly with some degree of autonomous driving capability.

While a Reuters report said Apple could launch a car as early as 2024, development work is proceeding more slowly than outsiders might think, according to the Bloomberg report, which cited anonymous sources familiar with the matter. Those sources quoted five to seven years as a more realistic timeline, but also noted that the time frame could change.

Read more