What took them so long?
By Gary S. Vasilash
It was called the “Lexus Concept Reveal Show,” and the purpose of the show, such as it was,* was to introduce the LF-Z Electrified.
The show was about the car—a design that has the now-familiar Lexus sheet metal angularity but type-wise something of a cross between a four-door sedan and an SUV, which arguably makes it a bona-fide “crossover”—that is to come out in some form (concepts don’t always turn into production vehicles) by 2025 as part of “20 new vehicle models including BEVs, PHEVs, HEVs, and other electric vehicles.”
Heretofore the focus at Toyota—of which, of course, Lexus is a part—has been on hybrids.
And it was ahead of the rest of its competitors back in 2005 when it launched the RX 400h, a hybrid.
An interesting thing about that: Lexus was ahead with the straight-up RX, which has become a phenomenal success for the brand, out performing not only anything else in its lineup, but vehicles from its competitors. And the hybrid version was something that others didn’t have because they, to a certain extent, thought that diesel engines were the future.
Yet Lexus was there with that hybrid, then made hybrid variants of everything from its performance cars to its compact utilities.
But its full-EV–especially in the blinding-light of Tesla–was nowhere.
The details of the LF-Z Electrified are sketchy. As in “DIRECT4,” a “four-wheel driving force control technology” that sounds as if it is an approach to torque vectoring (the various wheels are controlled such that the appropriate amount of torque is distributed to each depending on conditions). It rides on a specific battery-electric vehicle (BEV) platform.
The battery is placed longitudinally and helps provide a low center of gravity, but what kind of battery it is or how big aren’t revealed.
The interior is said to be minimalist, using a new design concept, “Tazuna,” which is the Japanese word for rein, as in a rider reining in a horse. (Mazda has long used Jinba Ittai in the development of its vehicles: the combination of a rider and horse as one.)
Lexus has to come big with electric vehicles. Audi is rolling out with models right now, Mercedes is ratcheting up its output, BMW has a suite of electrified vehicles and has announced its own BEVs, and even Cadillac is going all in.
Given that Lexus was already providing electrified vehicles back in 2005 makes me wonder what’s been taking it so long.
*While this was about a car, it should not be mistaken for an “auto show,” one of those events held in a municipal convention center or fairgrounds with miles of aisles of displays of new vehicles, an event that was in the process of diminishing in importance before the pandemic. It almost seems as if those shows, where things like concepts were routinely introduced, may be giving way to things of a tightly controlled and digital nature.