Showing its first attempt to catch up to European rival carmakers in the challenging electric car sphere, Toyota’s luxury brand Lexus finally launched its first-ever electric vehicle earlier this year—called the RZ. Now comes a preview to the brand’s electric flagship model, the LF-ZC concept.
Launched at the Japan Mobility Show late last month, the LF-ZC — where the LF stands for Lexus Future — will compete with rivals including the BMW i4 and the upcoming electric Audi A4. Also enjoying its world premiere alongside the LF-ZC was the LF-ZL, which previews a future flagship SUV.
Notably, the Japanese manufacturer revealed that the production version of the four-door LF-ZC model will deliver a range of 621 miles while other lower spec variants will offer lower ranges. Lexus gave no details of the LF-ZC’s powertrain or batteries, but it confirmed that it will be offered in single-motor, rear-wheel drive form. A dual-motor, four-wheel-drive model will also be available. The company says its goal is to achieve “twice the range of conventional BEVs” through the use of the next-gen batteries—most probably ‘prismatic’—and improved energy efficiency.
With its aero-optimized design and low-slung appearance, Lexus claims the LF-ZC will be able to achieve a drag coefficient of less than 0.2, which should help to maximize economy and range.
The LF-ZC uses steer-by-wire tech first seen on RZ
The exterior design reveals the latest version of Lexus’s design language, with the main focus on the 4-door’s aerodynamic optimization. The front end retains a more stylized and toned-down version of the signature Lexus ‘spindle grille’, while the flared rear wheel arches have been penned to enhance the car’s stance.
Inside, a daring steering yoke employed steering-by-wire technology first seen on the RZ. The car’s main controls have been spread across the dash and center console using several digital pads. The left-hand side pad is used for operation functions such as safety systems, driver assistance features and drive mode selections. Audio, climate control and other functions are positioned on the right.
The LF-ZC is based on a new common architecture that will serve as the foundation for most of Lexus and Toyota’s next-gen battery electric vehicles. Shared with the Lexus LF-ZL, Toyota FT-3e, and Toyota FT-Se concepts, the platform is designed to be modular so that its will be compatible for different sizes and types of vehicles.
According to Lexus, the production model of the LF-ZC will probably employ the company’s recently developed Arene operating system, which it says will have a “unprecedented effect” on driving dynamics by mimicking the driving characteristics of different types of car, thus enabling the driver to adjust the handling to suit their driving style.
This new feature suggests that Lexus may eventually offer its radical new “manual” EV transmission—yes, with three pedals!—that it is currently developing in conjunction with the production version of the LF-ZC. An EV with a manual gearbox? The plot thickens. More on that later.