Lexus Gives Us a Quick Download on Its Future
The tech and initiatives that will drive Toyota's luxury cars.
During an event to celebrate its 30th anniversary—photos from which we're using to illustrate this future look, because bygone cars are also neat—Lexus gave us a brief glimpse of the technologies and strategies it has in the pipeline. Below, we've boiled it down to the must-know tidbits.
- A Level II autonomous driving system, called Automated Highway Teammate, is coming in 2020. The system is designed to work "from [highway] entrance to exit" and is likely to include an automated lane-change and/or passing feature. Such a system has already undergone extensive testing on thoroughly mapped Japanese expressways.
- All Lexus models will offer some sort of electrified powertrain, meaning they will have EV, hybrid, plug-in-hybrid, or fuel-cell options, with powertrain choices tailored to individual markets.
- Lexus is working on advances in vehicle connectivity—for example, having cars communicate with a centralized data center for real-time traffic information.
- Lexus will continue to develop its hybrid technology, and not just as an eco-solution; it is looking to provide a more dynamic experience through electrification.
- Other technologies Lexus is exploring include in-wheel motors for electrified vehicles, a steer-by-wire system, and the "E-Axle." Though it wouldn't give us details of the latter, it was described to us as an axle optimized to work with electric power, and which will be compatible with both in-wheel and centrally mounted electric motors.
- Lexus will show a new concept car at the 2019 Tokyo auto show, which will show the coming evolution of Lexus interiors. Among the changes we can expect are an increase in contrast and expanded use of premium materials. We interpret this as a move away from the interiors of the RX and NX, and one toward those of the LS and LC.
- Lexus is prepared to implement vehicle-to-vehicle communications (V2V), but is waiting to see how the technology develops with other automakers.
- V-8 engines will survive for now, but may fall victim to future regulation. Though turbochargers are part of Lexus's strategy (witness the twin-turbo V-6 in the flagship LS500), Lexus feels that hybrid drivetrains are a strong candidate to take over the role as their preferred performance powertrain.
For more details on these and other initiatives, we'll have to wait until the Tokyo Motor Show in October, where Lexus will reveal even more.