Skip to main content

Lexus plugs in its electric car offensive with an innovative concept

Lexus was a pioneer in the hybrid car segment — it identified the technology’s potential well before its rivals — but it has been hesitant to go fully electric. It finally showed its vision of a battery-powered luxury car when it unveiled a futuristic concept named LF-30 Electrified during the 2019 edition of the Tokyo auto show.

The LF-30 Electrified stays true to Lexus values by arriving as a design-led, tech-savvy model, but it breaks nearly every tie with members of the company’s current range, and it doesn’t easily slot into an existing market segment. While it’s wider than the LS, the firm’s flagship sedan, and nearly as long, its proportions are dramatically different.

The concept illustrates how Lexus plans to reinvent its design language as it branches out into the electric car segment. Koichi Suga, the company’s design boss, told Digital Trends through a translator that he asked his team not to fully eliminate the spindle grille. It’s true that electric cars need less cooling than gasoline-powered models, but they nonetheless require air to prevent the components that make up their drivetrain from overheating. Besides, the spindle grille has become a hugely significant part of the company’s identity; it helps Lexus models stand out from the crowd, even at a distance. Suga isn’t eager to throw that equity away and start from scratch. The spindle stays, then.

“We feel that our future could resemble this design,” he told Digital Trends in reference to the LF-30.

Peeling off the body reveals a cutting-edge powertrain built around a 110-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack. It zaps four in-wheel electric motors into action, unlocking the drivetrain’s full, 536-horsepower potential. Giving each wheel its own motor (rather than putting one on each axle, which is the unofficial norm in 2019) makes for a more compact drivetrain that’s easier to control and adapt to different driving conditions. Lexus claimed the concept’s maximum driving range checks in at 310 miles, though that figure was obtained using the optimistic WLTP testing cycle.

The LF-30 can drive itself when the right conditions are met, and it’s packed with clever tech features we’ve never seen before. Take the Airporter, for example. It’s a drone that autonomously picks up your luggage in front of your house, and drops it directly into the trunk. Step inside, and you’ll see the user interface was designed so that the driver doesn’t need to take his or her eyes off the road to perform basic functions, like punching an address into the navigation system, but also to let the passengers relax. There’s an individual entertainment screen right ahead of the front passenger, and the rear passengers can sit back — literally –, relax, and watch a movie displayed on a glass roof Lexus calls a SkyGate. It can also show a starry sky, or navigation directions, depending on what the rear occupants are in the mood for.

Company vice president Koji Sato told Digital Trends he firmly believes in-wheel motors are the future. He also conceded the technology isn’t ready for mass production yet, and it might take years before it transitions from the show floor to the showroom floor. That’s fine, there’s time; the LF-30 previews what a Lexus might look and drive like in 2030.

In the meantime, Lexus pledged to offer an electrified variant of every nameplate it sells by 2025. That doesn’t mean going fully electric; electrified is a blanket term that includes mild hybrids, regular hybrids, plug-in hybrids, hydrogen-electric cars, and, of course, EVs. The first plug-in hybrid Lexus will arrive in the early 2020s, as will the company’s first series-produced EV. Electrified Lexus models will ultimately outsell its non-electrified vehicles.

Editors' Recommendations

Ronan Glon
Ronan Glon is an American automotive and tech journalist based in southern France. As a long-time contributor to Digital…
Pros and cons of buying a used electric car
Front three-quarters view of a 2023 Kia EV6 GT in a desert setting.

Electric cars have come a long way over the past few years. Gone are the days when the thought of an electric car was a novelty — these days, EVs are common, (mostly) available, and for the most part, refined.

But they’re also still relatively expensive, especially for a good one. That’s exactly why you might be thinking about buying a used one.

Read more
How much does an electric car battery cost?
Two Electrify America Charging Stations.

Electric cars are often hailed as being cheaper to operate and repair than gas-powered cars. It makes sense — on the operation side, you only need to pay for electricity (not gasoline), and on the repair side, there’s no motor or transmission to deal with.

But electric cars have other costly repairs, and while in total they do generally cost less than repairs for gasoline cars, it’s worth knowing about the potential costs ahead of time. Perhaps the most obvious, and one of the most costly, has to do with an electric car’s battery. After all, while all cars have batteries, those in electric cars are far bigger and more advanced — and thus can cost quite a bit to replace.
How much does an electric car battery cost?

Read more
Ram EV concept previews truck brand’s electric future
The Ram 1500 Revolution BEV concept was designed around an electric powertrain.

Electric pickup trucks are a hot trend in the auto industry, and Ram is late to the game. So the truck brand of massive automaker Stellantis needed to work hard to stand out.
Unveiled at CES 2023, the Ram 1500 Revolution BEV concept shows what Ram has in mind for its first production electric truck, which is scheduled to arrive in 2024. This concept version combines some features we’ve already seen on other electric trucks with a few clever new ideas. So while it may be revolutionary for the Ram brand, which is new to EVs, it’s more evolutionary when compared to other electric pickups.

Unmistakably electric
The Ram 1500 Revolution has the bulky appearance of a traditional truck, but with proportions that clearly mark it as an EV. With no need to accommodate an engine, the hood is much shorter. This allowed designers to make the cabin four inches longer than today’s internal-combustion Ram 1500 without shortening the bed, Ram claims. The grille is also smaller, although Ram compensated for this with a giant light-up logo and headlights with the same “tuning fork” elements as its current gasoline and diesel truck grilles.
The roofline is a bit lower and sleeker, which probably helps with aerodynamics, but like a traditional truck, the Revolution rolls on massive wheels and tires. The 35-inch tires are wrapped around 24-inch wheels with smooth covers and light-up elements. The charge port, meanwhile, is located in the driver’s side front fender. It makes a noise when the truck has started charging and blinks to show that charging is ongoing.
Like rival truck makers, Ram incorporated a frunk where the engine would normally be, plus the RamBox storage bins from its current trucks. Nearly every opening, including the tailgate, frunk, and charge port, is also power-operated.
Underpinning all of this power-operated convenience is the STLA Frame dedicated EV platform, one of four such platforms Stellantis plans to use for future EVs across its many brands, such as Chrysler and Jeep.

Read more