Luxury brand's first electric car will be unveiled in concept form later this month; takes inspiration from 2015 concept
10 October 2019

Lexus has released a preview image of a forward-thinking small EV that it's set to reveal in concept form at the 2019 Tokyo motor show

The as-yet-unnamed concept takes the form of a tall, boxy and city-friendly hatchback that wears a more futuristic design than any model in the brand’s current line-up. Inspiration is expected to be taken from the LF-SA concept of 2015 (pictured below), albeit updated with more production intent. 

The Lexus LF-30 concept has been officially revealed - read the full story here

The new image gives little away in terms of overall design but hints at flared front vents and a slim, futuristic headlight design. Lexus claims the semi-autonomous compact EV is aimed at "customers who are equally passionate about driving and luxury experiences".

“We feel that our future could resemble this design,” Lexus vice president Koji Sato recently told Autocar. 

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Lexus UX 2018 road test review - hero front

More car-like than most, with quirky styling and a hybrid powertrain that sets it apart from rivals such as the Volvo XC40

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Next-level infotainment technology displayed on a pair of screens positioned on either side of the steering wheel will characterise the interior. 

Although technical details and the production date for the first Lexus EV remain under wraps, Sato acknowledged the need to create a product that’s competitive and compelling. The Japanese firm is pouring a significant amount of money into the development of the powertrain technology it needs in order to honour its pledge of offering an electrified variant of every car it sells by 2025. 

Engineers are designing a platform to underpin electric cars. It will likely be shared with Toyota, Lexus’s parent company. The two brands jointly plan to launch 10 electric models by 2025. Lexus is also placing a big research focus on in-wheel electric motors, although Sato conceded it will take years to make the technology a reality. 

“We expect four wheels operating independently will offer greater agility, stability and excitement,” he said. “We will continue to pursue this exciting opportunity.” 

Meanwhile, Lexus design boss Koichi Suga is defining the design of a production Lexus EV. Final design hasn’t yet been signed off by Toyota president Akio Toyoda, but he told Autocar the spindle grille won’t disappear completely. 

“Cooling still needs to happen,” said Suga. “The spindle grille is also a representation of personality, and it’s the face of the car, so it’s really a necessary part of the brand identity. But because it’s an EV, [customers] are also going to expect something that’s futuristic, something more non-traditional.” The Tokyo-bound concept will hint at the direction he wants to take. 

Lexus also plans other alternatives to the petrol engine, including plug-in hybrids and hydrogen fuel cells. Sato hailed the company’s expertise in hybrid technology as a major advantage. 

“The hybrid technology is our core. Our expertise in electrical control technology and battery technology can be used for other types of alternative powertrains, even fuel cells,” he said. 

However, the widespread availability of a fuel-cell-powered Lexus is strongly linked to the growth of the infrastructure. 

Sato stressed Lexus can’t solve that problem alone, but he emphasised his team is “never giving up on this technology”. Sato also claimed Lexus needs an entry-level car to lure buyers moving up from non-luxury brands into showrooms. The CT – ditched in the US but still on sale in Europe – is well overdue a replacement, but the brand is said to be weighing up sales of the new UX crossover to see when or if a new version is needed. However, Autocar understands it’s pencilled in for 2021 behind the scenes. 

At the opposite end of the spectrum, Sato emphasised Lexus is not currently planning a follow-up to the limited-edition, V10-powered LFA, released in 2010. 

“I love it but we need your help. We need strong requests for a new LFA from the media. This can help us proceed,” Sato said.

Read more

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Lexus UX 250h 2019 UK review​

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Comments
9

22 August 2019

i hope it looks as good as Honda’s small EV concept, and doesn’t lose it’s looks for production like the Honda did.

22 August 2019
Andy_Cowe wrote:

i hope it looks as good as Honda’s small EV concept, and doesn’t lose it’s looks for production like the Honda did.

And, crucially, that means not trying to squeeze in a pair of rear doors, and completely ruining the proportions. Surely there's not only me in the world that would love a stylish, compact, slightly less practical, more city orientated vehicle?

22 August 2019
catnip wrote:

Andy_Cowe wrote:

i hope it looks as good as Honda’s small EV concept, and doesn’t lose it’s looks for production like the Honda did.

And, crucially, that means not trying to squeeze in a pair of rear doors, and completely ruining the proportions. Surely there's not only me in the world that would love a stylish, compact, slightly less practical, more city orientated vehicle?

 

The Honda EV has bigger appearance problems than the doors, it completely changed. Extra doors can ruin the looks, but doesn't have to. There are also now more options such as smaller rear suicide doors. Autocar had a mock-up on Monday of an electric Fiat 500 with rear suicide doors, and it looked good. I have a 3-door Suzuki Swift Sport (previous gen), but think the 5-door version looked fine (a pity it never came in the metallic red mine is). 5 doors can work on a supermini, but it is that bit harder to do.

22 August 2019
Andy_Cowe wrote:

catnip wrote:

Andy_Cowe wrote:

i hope it looks as good as Honda’s small EV concept, and doesn’t lose it’s looks for production like the Honda did.

And, crucially, that means not trying to squeeze in a pair of rear doors, and completely ruining the proportions. Surely there's not only me in the world that would love a stylish, compact, slightly less practical, more city orientated vehicle?

 

The Honda EV has bigger appearance problems than the doors, it completely changed. Extra doors can ruin the looks, but doesn't have to. There are also now more options such as smaller rear suicide doors. Autocar had a mock-up on Monday of an electric Fiat 500 with rear suicide doors, and it looked good. I have a 3-door Suzuki Swift Sport (previous gen), but think the 5-door version looked fine (a pity it never came in the metallic red mine is). 5 doors can work on a supermini, but it is that bit harder to do.

Its not just the looks. For taller people the doors on small cars are just too small when you have more than 2. And the B pillar is generally moved too far forward so blocks your over the shoulder vision in a way that 2 door cars dont. 

However i agree that the Fiat 500 drawing with the rear suicide doors did look OK, and the front doors look the right size too.

 

22 August 2019
artill wrote:

Its not just the looks. For taller people the doors on small cars are just too small when you have more than 2. And the B pillar is generally moved too far forward so blocks your over the shoulder vision in a way that 2 door cars dont.

 

This is a big problem for me, added to the fact that I have issues with my back, so climbing around a forward set B-pillar actually hurts. I don't like the way that the upper seat belt mounting is sometimes ahead of my shoulders on these little 5 doors, too.

22 August 2019

Surely the Honda EV kept the majority of its looks for production?

I have never liked the horrible, angular design language that Lexus employ, it makes the car look cheapy and toyotaish. The amount of pointy bits of metal on the C-HR could just about impale someone.

22 August 2019

but grate you up into little pieces.

22 August 2019

I wish Toyota (whether it wears the Toyota or the Lexus badge is neither here nor there) would make an electric city car with as much design purity as the iQ

In fact the iQ already exists with electric variants.

22 August 2019
abkq wrote:

I wish Toyota (whether it wears the Toyota or the Lexus badge is neither here nor there) would make an electric city car with as much design purity as the iQ

In fact the iQ already exists with electric variants.

I really liked the iQ, and I still see a lot around. As a Toyota I'm sure they're still giving great service.

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