By: Jeremy J Zacharias
Before buying my Tesla Model 3 and embracing the benefits of electrified transportation, I drove a 2008 Lexus ES350. This Lexus, which touted unrivaled build quality and comfort (in my opinion), was as dependable as they come with its tried and true 3.5 V-6 motor and Toyota over-engineered parts. However, when I began driving my Lexus, it was fully apparent that Lexus was behind the times when it came to innovation and technology. Short of a tape deck, this Lexus was nearly 5-7 years behind its competitors such as Volvo, Audi and Mercedes.
It is no surprise that Toyota Motor Company, the parent company of Lexus, puts almost all of its focus on quality and dependability and lags behind its competitors in innovation. With that primer, I wondered what the future of Lexus looked like as the auto industry evolves towards an electrified future full of innovation through technology.
Upon researching this query, I came across Lexus’ plan to enter the electrified era, which has been introduced through its concept known as LF-30. According to Toyota’s press release, the LF-30 concept embodies the “Lexus Electrified” vision and will pave the way for the next generation of Lexus automobiles.
What Is It?
The Lexus LF-30 concept is Lexus’ vision for its future electric vehicles and is estimated to debut closer to 2030. The LF-30, according to Lexus, will offer a futuristic exterior and an innovative interior that leverages autonomous driving by way of a newly designed cockpit. In terms of electric propulsion, the LF-30 will include four, in-wheel electric motors. Lexus will also enhance the driving experience by use of the Lexus Advanced Posture Control, explained in further detail below, which promises to offer a dynamic driving experience.
Exterior Design Innovation
Lexus, with the development of the LF-30 as the face of its “Lexus Electrified” vision, sought to use an innovative new design unique to battery-powered EVs. According to Toyota, energy flow provides the design ethos for the LF-30, which means that the exterior design cues of the LF-30 is influenced by the energy created by the wheels at the corners of the vehicle body. This unique design focused on energy from the wheels continues toward the vehicle cabin and past the driver to directly flow the energy onto the road surface.
The LF-30 design boasts a hoodless shape which helps maintain Lexus’ signature spindle form, which Lexus began implementing into its vehicle architecture a few years ago. The spindle form serves as a centerpiece from which the window glass, fenders and headlights all flow.
The LF-30’s lighting design is also unique with its wing-shaped headlights and sharp rear lights. The lighting design and style is also functional when combined with the side air intakes to achieve excellent aerodynamics and cooling performance.
Lexus is also developing innovative window technology with the LF-30. According to Toyota, the opacity of the side windows can be freely adjusted, providing occupants with expansive views of the surrounding scenery by day and a high level of privacy at night.
Interior Design Innovation
Lexus has always employed a human-centered philosophy in the design of its vehicle interiors. According to Toyota, in expanding on this philosophy, the LF-30’s cockpit was designed based on the new Lexus concept of “Tazuna,” which conceptualizes the notion of how a single rein can be used to achieve mutual understanding between a horse and its rider.
The LF-30 interior design utilizes steering control-mounted switches and a heads-up display to create a space that enables the driver to focus on driving while controlling various functions, such as the navigation and audio system and driving-mode selection, without having to shift one’s vision away from the road. This “Tazuna” cockpit will also use gesture control and will present vehicle information by way of augmented reality.
Lexus Advanced Posture Control
According to Toyota, Lexus is developing new advanced posture control and other electrification technologies to further evolve driving experiences and to fundamentally transform the essence of luxury transport. To accomplish this, Lexus is using the lessons learned from the current development of its gasoline-electric hybrids, including battery management, power control modules, and electric motors. The LF-30 will use technology to integrate the control of the powertrain, steering, suspension and brakes. With the research and development of Lexus Advanced Posture Control, Lexus can control the driving force to provide ideal vehicle posture according to each distinct driving situation. Through this technology, Lexus hopes to expand its luxury footprint into the electrified transportation sector while also providing enjoyable and safer driving vehicles.
The LF-30 will use wireless charging technology to simplify daily charging. This proposed charging technology will utilize an artificial intelligence-based energy management system to optimize electric power distribution to both the vehicle and the home, and vehicle charging will be coordinated with the driver’s daily schedule.
The “Lexus Electrified” vision and the LF-30 concept offer consumers a glimpse into the electrified future of this luxury automaker. However, with a vision implementation goal of 2030, nearly one decade away, Lexus might find itself lagging behind the innovation and technology offered by other companies, such as Volvo, Audi and Mercedes, who are already in the development stage for their electric vehicles.
However, if Lexus’ electrified future is a testament to its past, by the time Lexus will roll out its electric vehicle into production form, dependability and quality will be paramount. Time will tell whether Lexus can join the ranks of other automakers focusing on electric vehicles, but when it finally does, the focus on quality and luxury will set the company apart as it has done in the past.