Lexus is preparing to unveil its first electric car next month. And with that in mind, Toyota's luxury brand is showing off a concept car at this week's Tokyo Motor Show that whets all sorts of distant ideas that may or may not turn into its future electric vehicles, such as gesture control, reality increased, self-driving technology, wheeled engines and even drones.
The electrified LF-30, as it is called, is a wedge-shaped coupe full of crystalline corners and overhangs both inside and out. It has four seats, with the driver and front passenger essentially getting their first-class cockpits and almost corresponding futuristic displays, while the rear passengers are treated with anatomical seats with "artificial muscle technology" that can "adapt to their occupant ".
The large windshield continues up to the rear of the car, and Lexus imagines using this glass roof as a display for information such as "a realistic sky full of stars, favorite videos from the user and even navigation" for rear passengers – an idea that Lexus calls non-stop "SkyGate". LF-30 Electrified passengers will be able to interact with SkyGate via voice control or with Minority Reportgestural style. Artificial intelligence will be able to recognize "vehicle occupant voices" to help regulate the temperature of the air, the audio or the driving settings at will of the occupants, assist in navigation and even make "activity suggestions after the arrival".
Meanwhile, the opacity of the windows can be adjusted to let the outside light enter or block completely. Lexus also points out that the concept was designed with sustainable materials, such as charred cedar and recycled metal. And the exterior of the car is decorated with a dynamic lighting.
The LF-30 Electrified concept employs a series of futuristic technologies even on the more mechanical side of things, ranging from plausible to outrageous. It uses electric motors on wheels (instead of positioning the motors on each axis) that would allow a more dynamic drive, including something that Lexus calls "posture control", which essentially regulates the output of each motor in real time to maintain the LF-30 compounds under dynamic driving conditions. The car also uses steer-by-wire technology, which means that there is no mechanical connection between the steering wheel and the transmission, which would allow the wheel to be moved forward when the LF-30 works self.
And of course the electrified LF-30 concept has independent functionality. Which modern self-respecting concept car wouldn't be? Lexus does not go into detail on what is fueling this autonomous capacity, since it is not really necessary. Once again, this is only the company that proposes what could happen one day along the way.
That being said, Lexus has included a number of specifications that give us an idea of what the company is targeting with its first electric vehicle (and whatever others follow). The LF-30 Electrified is designed around a 110kWh battery pack (so 10kWh larger than the one Tesla has in circulation at the moment), which would provide a range of about 500 kilometers (or about 310 miles) on the cycle of WLTP test in Europe. The car could go from 0 to 100 kilometers now in 3.8 seconds, with a combined power of 400kW (536 horsepower).
But the best futuristic flowering could be the "Lexus Airporter". That's what Lexus calls a "support vehicle with drone technology", which can do things like transporting luggage from an owner's door directly to the car.
It's all frankly a lot, but it's not terribly surprising. Lexus's parent company, Toyota, was slower than most other automakers to announce its electrification plans, despite paving the way for hybrid and even hydrogen vehicles. Now that Toyota is finally coming in defining what it wants to do with all-electric vehicles, it seems that Lexus has taken stock of all the possibilities it could embrace as a luxury car brand. The result is a concept car in which Lexus has poured many different wild ideas, and one that will one day seem like a first wild stab in a more practical future.