Lexus’ vision for the future of electric cars looks a little like that of Cyberpunk 2077’s vision of near-ish future automobiles. But the Japanese car maker’s LF-Z Electrified is less of a sci-fi concept and more of a statement of intent for its next EVs and hybrid cars.
The LF-Z Electrified will be the model on which some 20 Lexus EV and hybrid cars will be built upon by 2025. And if this concept is anything to go by, they'll be cars stuffed with tech.
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The LF-Z Electrified itself sports a low-slung SUV design that’s punctuated by sharp angles on its sides, lights and rear, very much in keeping with some of Lexus' recent sports cars.
But it drops traditional door handles for what appears to be electronic handles that pop out once they detect an incoming hand, providing said hand has the car’s key. Sensors around the car can also detect cyclists and other approaching vehicles to prevent a passenger from inadvertently getting out into traffic.
A huge panoramic glass roof made of electrochromic glass that can be dimmed upon command for privacy or illuminated to reflect the night sky is a practically plush touch.
In fact, plush is the name of the game with the LF-Z Electrified: it has massage functions in the rear seats, a touch panel in the center of the roof to allow front and rear passengers to communicate, and a “next generation” Mark Levinson audio system.
But for tech aficionados, there are some particularly neat features. For instance, there's a fly-by-wire system whereby the car’s steering isn't actually mechanically attached to the steering shaft, but instead uses electronics for “more direct correlation between steering operation and driving force.” This means the car can turn with less steering input, depending on the driving conditions.
The electronic system, meanwhile, will filter out unwanted bumps and vibrations from the road surface, but will still apparently communicate “steering feel” so drivers don’t lose the dynamics of spirited steering. We’ll have to see how this works in practice, as electronic steering can occasionally leave a driver feeling detached from the driving experience.
Speaking of driver-centric tech, an AI system will learn a driver’s preferences and characteristics and tailor things like route planning and destination information to the driver. And voice control will allow the driver to use the AI as a form of “lifestyle concierge,” as Lexus puts it.
There’s also an augmented reality head-up display that’s supported by a whole suite of information displayed on a single module. That module is festooned with displays easily within the driver's sightline, and system controls are grouped around the steering wheel on what look like compact touchscreens. Whereas the Mercedes EQS EV’s Hyperscreeen seems to be designed to involve both driver and front passenger, the design of the “Tazuna Cockpit” concept appears to be more driver-centric.
As for the actual driving system, the LF-Z Electrified has Lexus’ DIRECT4 system. This allows for power from the electric motor to be directed to all wheels at once or to the front or rear wheels independently, allowing for a flexible all-wheel-drive system to suit different driving conditions.
For the LF-Z Electrified, the system can deliver 600 miles of range and hit a maximum speed of 200 km/h, roughly 124 mph. That doesn’t make it the fastest EV around, but for one stuffed with tech and features, it’s no slouch.
In short, the LF-Z Electrified is a rather impressive and compelling EV. Admittedly, it's arguably lacking anything really special to make it stand out from the EV crowd and a lot of the features it offers exist in the cars of today or are coming in the near future; the lack of any new self-driving features is a little surprising, for example.
However, all this tech in an eye-catching and luxury package is no bad thing. And a well-specced, nicely designed and powerful electric car is one way to get more people interested in EVs.
But in its current form, it’s not ever likely to make it onto the road. Rather, we’ll see a lot of these features integrated into future Lexus EVs. However, going by the LF-X Electrified, we can expect Lexus’ future EVs and hybrids to still pack plenty of comfort and luxury even while offering a greener vehicle.