We’re a world apart from where Lexus was a decade ago.
Just over a decade ago, Lexus signaled the next generation of its “F” marque performance with the iconic LFA. Now, though, as electrification utterly dominates the automotive landscape, it’s not exactly fashionable or business-savvy to trumpet your brand with a screaming V10 engine. Instead, the automaker is going to the opposite end of the spectrum, and apparently the alphabet, with the aptly named Lexus LF-Z concept.
Think of this more as a design case study than a teaser of what’s actually coming. Lest you think one of the world’s largest automakers is mimicking Tesla with its weird steering wheel-yoke-control-thing, this may not be something we’ll actually see in production. Or, if we do, it probably will dial back the craziness as Lexus has done in the past. We can’t rule anything out, since Lexus didn’t provide too many specifics)After all, we haven’t seen hide or sheet metal of the LF-1 Limitless, which is supposedly a flagship crossover that may eventually make it to production. Not to mention the LF-30 Electrified concept, which plays a similar game to this LF-Z, showing a “bold new vision” for the future.
There’s a new charge of electrified vehicles on the brand’s horizon, though that may not start with a Lexus LF-Z.
Here’s the meat of what Lexus said in announcing the LF-Z concept. The brand will inevitably roll out 20 new vehicle models. That does include full-electric models — a market Toyota’s been slow to embrace thus far — but will also include standard hybrid-electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids. The upshot, though, is that every Lexus model should have electric assist in some form by mid-decade. By 2050 (again, on a slower time scale than its rivals’ more aggressive targets), the brand aims to achieve carbon neutral status throughout its entire manufacturing process, from the vehicle itself to all its materials, logistics and recycling of older models. Finally, the company also aims to open a new technical center focusing on future development.
Lexus says it will focus on “strengthening” its core sedan and SUV model lineup, as well as possibly roll out new sports cars and “new genres that have never before existed.” Level 3+ autonomous capability is also on tap, by way of the advanced “Lexus Teammate” driver assistance tech suite.
Getting back to the Lexus LF-Z Electrified concept, the company says this BEV incorporates “driving performance, styling, and technologies envisioned for realization by 2025.” That includes the standard practice of low-slung battery packs and electric motors, as well as what Lexus is calling “Direct4” all-wheel drive system.
What can we ultimately expect?
While it’s unclear whether the Lexus LF-Z will make it to production in some form, there are some pieces we can glean from Tuesday’s reveal. The sharp exterior styling is one. Gone is the old-style “spindle” grille in favor of a cleaner, sharper look. Part of the old LFA’s DNA still lingers on in the headlight design, while features like pop-out door handles and even cameras for side mirrors are a possibility, if governments ever become hip to that. Replacing all manual controls and gauges with screens is another distinct chance, though I’m a bit doubtful about Lexus going quite so radical on the interior.
As ever, we’re left with the frustrating reality of concept reveals. That is, until this car or something like it actually makes production, nothing’s really set in stone. If this winds up being close to what the future Lexus RX looks like, though, I’m game. Especially if we get LFA-like performance without melting the ice caps in the process.