Lexus was a pioneer in the hybrid car segment — it identified the technology’s potential well before its rivals — but it has been hesitant to leap into the electric car segment. It will finally show its vision of a battery-powered luxury car when it unveils a futuristic concept car during the 2019 edition of the Tokyo auto show opening its doors in later October.
Digital Trends got a preview of the concept in July, but we weren’t allowed to take photos, so the teaser video published by the Japanese carmaker is the first official look at the upcoming concept. It doesn’t reveal much, but we can tell you it’s a design-led, tech-savvy model that breaks nearly every tie with members of the current Lexus range, and it doesn’t easily slot into an existing market segment. It’s more of a city car that a long-range cruiser like the LS, however.
The concept will illustrate how Lexus plans to reinvent its design language as it branches out into the electric car segment. Koichi Suga, the company’s design boss, told Digital Trends through a translator that he asked his team not to fully eliminate the spindle grille. It’s true that electric cars need less cooling than gasoline-powered models, but they nonetheless require air to prevent the components that make up their drivetrain from overheating. Besides, the spindle grille has become a hugely significant part of the company’s identity; it helps Lexus models stand out from the crowd, even at a distance. Suga isn’t eager to throw that equity away and start from scratch. The spindle stays, then.
“We feel that our future could resemble this design,” he told Digital Trends in reference to the Tokyo-bound concept.
Peeling off the body will reveal a cutting-edge powertrain. It’s too early to tell whether the concept will be built on the electric car platform that Lexus is developing jointly with parent company Toyota, but company vice president Koji Sato told Digital Trends he firmly believes in-wheel motors are the future. This layout places an electric motor behind each wheel, so four total. In 2019, most electric cars use a motor per axle, meaning they use up to two. Sato also conceded the technology isn’t ready for mass production yet, and it might take years before it transitions from the show floor to the showroom floor.
We’ll learn much more about the electric concept car Lexus plans to unveil in Tokyo during the coming weeks.
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