The electric nexus of Lexus


How the LF-Z Electrified concept car points to the brand’s future

LEXUS is about to experience a global transformation, and the brand gave a rare glimpse of what to expect in this metamorphosis.

Since the launch of the RX 400h (the world’s first luxury hybrid model) in 2005, Lexus has sold nearly two million electrified vehicles and currently offers nine models of hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) and battery electric vehicles (BEVs) in approximately 90 countries around the world.

And now, Lexus has unveiled the LF-Z Electrified, a concept midsize BEV that embodies the transformation of Japan’s premiere luxury automaker in terms of driving performance, styling, and technologies envisioned for realization by 2025.

If you think you’re missing the traditional Lexus spindle grille in the LF-Z Electrified, you need to expand your vision — literally. Whereas the grille alone presented the distinctive spindle design in previous and current Lexus models, the future execution will now include the whole car itself — the grille and the hood of the LF-Z, for instance.

Lexus is evolving the design icon of its spindle grille into a spindle body as the overall body architecture. The aim was to create a three-dimensional design that transforms the form of the vehicle body itself into the icon of the Lexus brand.

In the rear, a clean and simple horizontal design combines with the molding that emphasizes the wheels to express a powerful stance. Also, horizontally displaying “LEXUS” in the continuous slim taillamp contributes to styling that symbolizes the next generation of the brand.

To embody to an even higher degree the company’s human-centered approach, the cockpit was designed based on the new concept of tazuna (Japanese for “rein”). Inspired by the relationship between horse and rider, who communicate through a single rein, steering wheel-mounted switches and the vehicle’s head-up display have been coordinated to create a space in which the navigation system, audio system, and driving mode selection, can be performed without movement of the driver’s line of sight or need to operate complicated switches.

The entire interior has been made a clean and high-quality space by a form that seamlessly connects the cowl to the front doors and on to the rear doors. Also, a panoramic roof uses long plates of glass that bring about a feeling of openness.

The LF-Z Electrified evolves the “Lexus Driving Signature,” a unique Lexus driving experience that aims for a linear response that is faithful to the driver’s intentions, including the feeling of seamlessly connecting acceleration, steering, and braking in any driving situation.

The LF-Z Electrified achieves an ideal balance by optimally positioning the battery and motors. By orienting the lithium-ion battery assembly longitudinally under the floor of the vehicle, the chassis becomes more rigid and the vehicle’s center of gravity is lowered for improved dynamics. In addition, this design helps mitigate vibrations and unpleasant noises from penetrating the passenger cabin. The Lexus DNA of quietness and ride comfort has evolved dramatically yet remains.

The new DIRECT4 four-wheel drive technology controls the front and rear drive wheels independently and can switch between front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, or all-wheel drive, depending on the driving situation. The system controls the distribution of driving force through the seamless orchestration and calculation of accelerator pedal and steering wheel inputs, resulting in powerful acceleration (zero-100kph in three seconds) and exhilarating cornering performance that delivers precisely what the driver expects. The use of steer-by-wire eliminates the need for a mechanical connection through the steering shaft, resulting in a more direct response and enabling the vehicle to turn with less steering angle and more precision.

The LF-Z Electrified’s voice recognition system uses the latest artificial intelligence (AI) to recognize, learn, and adapt to a driver’s habits and preferences, supporting tasks such as determining driving routes and even making restaurant reservations.

A digital key allows family and friends to access the car without having to hand over a conventional key, in addition to operating the vehicle with a smartphone, such as opening and closing the door locks. And by enabling service providers to access the car via the digital key, it will be possible to provide vehicle-linked services such as package delivery to the car and car sharing.

The retractable door handle automatically appears above the vehicle’s surface when a driver or passenger approaches with key in hand. The door can be unlocked and opened by touching the sensor inside the handle. Sensors scan the surrounding environment for oncoming traffic prior to passenger egress to provide an additional layer of passenger safety.

The panoramic roof uses electrochromic glass and is equipped with entertainment functions such as dimming for privacy and shade, or illumination to reflect the passing night sky. In the center of the roof is a touch panel that connects the front and rear seats, and is used for communication between passengers. The reclining rear seats are equipped with a massage function while a next-generation Mark Levinson audio system, working with an active noise cancelation feature, reproduces a quiet, concert hall-like audio experience.

By 2025, Lexus plans to introduce 20 new or minor-change models, including more than 10 electrified models such as BEVs, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), and HEVs, in line with the needs of each country and region around the world.

Lexus aims to offer electric variants of all its models by 2025, with the sales ratio of electric vehicles exceeding that of gasoline-engine vehicles. It also plans to develop vehicles such as sports models that continue to provide the fun of driving, a car that redefines the concept of having a chauffeur, and new genres that have never before existed.