Lexus and parent automaker Toyota haven’t exactly jumped aboard the battery-electric bandwagon yet. However, that’s scheduled to change next decade.
Digital Trends reported last Thursday that the brand plans to electrify its entire lineup by 2025. While “electrify” is a loose term that covers anything from mild-hybrid systems to full-blown battery-electric powertrains, Lexus vice president Koji Sato shared the luxury brand will soon develop a dedicated electric car platform and wants to pursue the development of in-wheel electric motors. He admitted the technology is just a concept and it will take years to realize, but Lexus will continue to develop the technology.
Sato added Lexus’ definition of “electrified” also includes fuel cells, which Toyota has pushed around the globe. The Mirai remains on sale in California where hydrogen refueling infrastructure is more common. The automaker also revealed its Project Portal fuel cell semi truck as a new zero-emissions way for freight transport.
Protean in-wheel electric motor
As for Lexus, we’ve heard whispers of a hydrogen fuel cell model or concept that could debut ahead of the 2020 Olympics, which are set to take place in Tokyo.
Back to the in-wheel electric motors, they and the electric car in general will cause a casualty, according to Lexus design boss Koichi Suga. The design chief told DT the brand faces a problem since electric motors and batteries don’t require nearly as much air for cooling than an internal-combustion engine. Lexus’ signature spindle grille is going to need a revamp. Suga said it’s easier said than done because the element has become intertwined with Lexus design. There is a proposal on the table for a new Lexus design language, but the design chief said Toyota Motor President Akio Toyoda hasn’t given it his signature just yet.
That design direction could be shown in October at the Tokyo motor show, where Lexus plans to unveil a tech-heavy concept car.
The most prominent company to show off in-wheel electric motors was Protean Electric, a British startup. NEVS recently bought the firm, and also purchased the remnants of Saab following a failed Spyker ownership period.