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Tokyo show: Lexus concept points to solid state future

Solid state battery technology to the fore in Lexus LF-30 Electrified concept

23 Oct 2019

JUST weeks out from revealing its first full-electric model, Lexus has given an even deeper glimpse into its electrified future in the shape of the LF-30 Electrified concept car at the Tokyo motor show.


In doing so, the Japanese luxury car manufacturer’s parent Toyota revealed it is pushing ahead with the development of next-generation solid state batteries that promise more bang for the buck in electric cars to be built from about the middle of the next decade – by which time it plans to have electrified versions of all its models.


The futuristic concept on the Lexus stand reveals a small “solid state” badge on the door sill when the gullwing doors are opened, indicating that the car-maker sees a future for such batteries in replacing the current lithium-ion technology.


Toyota is expected to reveal more at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games where a Toyota vehicle powered by the new-age batteries is expected to be put through its paces for a global audience.


However, the first Lexus battery-electric models, including the first-ever production EV to be shown next month and a mooted plug-in hybrid to follow, will all be lithium-ion equipped as the solid state technology still has a way to go.


While the solid state batteries are serious in the eyes of Toyota engineers, how much of the remainder of the LF-30 Electrified concept is fanciful is open to question.


The in-wheel electric motors will likely not make it into production, due to the unsprung weight that upsets ride and handling.


However, the overall design – crafted at Lexus’s ED2 European Design Centre in the south of France – could well be the precursor to a large (5090mm long and 1990mm wide), spacious (1600mm tall) 2+2 luxury vehicle to take on the likes of Mercedes-Benz’s EQ range.


With a sporty wedge shape and a new take on the familiar Lexus spindle grille, the LF-30 is certainly not boring, which is a good omen for Lexus products in 2030.


The opacity of the side windows can be adjusted electronically to keep out prying eyes, while the front fascia changes colour to tell other road users what driving mode it is in.


Apparently weighing 2400kg, the LF-30 is supposedly powered by four electric motors delivering 400kW of power and 700Nm of torque that speed the vehicle to 100km/h in a claimed 3.8 seconds and to a top speed of 200km/h.


The big 110kWh battery pack is said to provide a 500km driving range.


The LF-30 Electrified – the 30 represents the 30th anniversary of the Lexus brand – sits on a dedicated EV platform, indicating Lexus will follow the same route as Mercedes-Benz and Audi in separating its internal combustion engine and battery EV lines rather than developing a one-size-fits-all architecture like BMW and Volvo.


Of course, the LF-30 has driverless autonomous technology, along with steer-by-wire, presumably if the former goes haywire.


Even stranger for an autonomous car, the interior design with its yoke-like steering device is based on a theme derived from “tazuna” – the Japanese word for reins.


The rear seats use artificial muscle technology to mould to their occupant, while the panoramic glass roof – dubbed SkyGate – displays a range of information, even including a realistic representation of the night sky.


Last but not least, the LF-30 Electrified carries a drone called the Lexus Airporter that will help out with tasks such as moving baggage from the doorstep to the vehicle’s boot.

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