By Steve & Tamami Laser
The Lexus of the future could be a crossover, a sports car, a sedan, or a blend of all three. It could be a hybrid (HEV), a plug-in hybrid (PHEV), or a pure electric vehicle (BEV). And it might look like the stunning new LF-Z Electrified Concept that was revealed during an online presentation from Japan.
The LF-Z rides on a new, dedicated battery electric vehicle (BEV) platform, features new DIRECT4 four-wheel driving force, includes a “Tazuna” themed interior with Artificial Intelligence support for the driver, and symbolizes the next generation of the luxury brand with its dramatic design.
LF-Z Electrified takes a new approach to the signature spindle grille and carries it into a “spindle body.” The result is a distinctive, powerful look, with a wide stance, a low center of gravity, and large diameter wheels that are pushed out to the corners of the vehicle.
DIRECT4 allows the high-torque motors to be controlled freely, for different driving situations, distributing driving force through the seamless orchestration and calculation of accelerator pedal application and steering wheel operation. LF-Z Electrified also features steer-by-wire, enabling the vehicle to turn, with less steering wheel angle, in response to driving conditions.
LF-Z Electrified is said to incorporate driving performance and advanced tech “to be realized by 2025.” Initial specifications (in a press release from Lexus Europe), include a targeted estimated EV driving range of 600km WLTP, lithium-ion batteries with 90kWh capacity, 150kw charging power, and estimated acceleration from 0-100 km/h in 3.0 seconds.
With its “Tazuna” (Japanese for “rein”) inspired interior, LF-Z Electrified offers refreshing minimalism and “Omotenashi” (hospitality). A panoramic roof, with long, electrochromic glass panels, contributes to a sense of openness, while reclining rear seats include a massage function.
The next generation of Lexus interior design features an augmented reality head-up display, touch display, gauges, and other items, built into a single module, with driving system functions concentrated around the steering wheel.
LF-Z Electrified has a voice recognition system that employs AI to recognize, learn, and adapt to driver habits and preferences. Other features include a next-generation Mark Levinson sound system, a digital key that allows vehicle operation without a conventional key, and an E-Latch system for smoother and safer door opening and closing.
Lexus plans to introduce 20 new or improved vehicles, with 10 or more of them electrified (HEV, PHEV, BEV), by 2025. In addition to strengthening and expanding its core sedan models and SUV lineup, Lexus says it will pursue the possibility of rolling out models 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.”
New Lexus Tech Center – On The Fast Track in Shimoyama
To help advance the planning and development of an array of future products, Lexus announced that a new business and technical center is planned to open, in March 2024, at the Toyota Technical Center Shimoyama (TCC) in Japan.
A new three-story Lexus building is designed to be the cornerstone for new vehicle development. Lexus says the first floor emulates the look and feel of a “pit at the Nürburgring where members from all functions gather for each project with a strong will to promote agile development by integrating real car manufacturing on site with cutting-edge digital equipment.”
The third floor offers space for clay design models. To help maximize creativity, designers, production engineers, aerodynamicists, and other members of the experimental department, can collaborate and work on new ideas.
The Messe Building is said to be a place for collaboration with suppliers and business partners to support the ongoing evolution of the brand. In addition to a multipurpose hall, a garage area allows partners to “view, measure, work with, and interact with vehicles.”
Located in a mountainous area between the cities of Toyota and Okazaki, the first section of a test track features a 5.3-km country road course that takes advantage of local topography, featuring a roughly 75 meter change in elevation, along with a range of curves and corners. More test courses are currently under construction, including a high-speed evaluation loop, plus a course that recreates road surfaces from points across the globe.
Note: Prototype vehicles shown
News sources and photos courtesy of Lexus International, Lexus Europe, and Toyota Motor Corp.
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