Update: ‘New Lexus EV platform confirmed’ section added.
Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) teased seven new models for its luxury brand Lexus on December 14, 2021, that were not high-riding SUVs or crossovers. One of these was an upcoming EV that may be the next-gen Lexus LS.
Even though it’s a nameplate credited with launching the Lexus brand in 1989, ‘LS’ simply (but aptly) stands for Luxury Sedan. Here’s what we expect from the first all-electric Lexus LS.
Sedans secure in Lexus’ electric future
Lexus plans to keep sedans and coupes in production despite the global popularity of SUVs. The company believes that these types of vehicles still have a place in the market. Spiros Fotinos, the former Director, Lexus (Europe), had said that while the company cannot ignore the demand for SUVs, it will still launch more traditional, lower-height cars in the future, as per an Autocar report dated May 16, 2022. “We’re clearly working on alternative body types,” he said.
New Lexus EV platform incoming
Fotinos suggested during the interaction that Lexus may need a new platform developed exclusively for EVs to achieve a line-up of fully electrified vehicles. High-end models like the full-size electric sedan that belongs to the LS class may not be feasible on the e-TNGA platform. While e-TNGA is “a great starting point,” using it to generate every EV Lexus plans to launch across segments would be technically impossible, he said.
According to a report The Asahi Shimbun released on January 25, 2023, e-TNGA isn’t a “BEV-dedicated platform” like TMC claims. On February 13, 2023, Lexus President Koji Sato indicated for future Lexus EVs will sit on a new platform that’s actually developed from scratch exclusively for EVs. He said:
We will develop next-generation BEVs for Lexus brand by 2026, with everything from the battery and platform to how a car is built optimized for BEVs, while expanding our current BEV lineup.Koji Sato, President, Lexus (Toyota Motor Corporation management changes announcement on February 13, 2023)
Using a dedicated EV platform should make future launches more capable and reduce their costs. Thermal management, which is crucial to the driving range, can be improved. A longer wheelbase, flat floor, and front trunk (frunk) give more space for both passengers and luggage. Plus, it’s possible to offer higher performance and experiment with different drivetrain layouts.
Citing Sato Top Gear reported on August 17, 2022, that Lexus wants to make its cars even more fun to drive in the EV era. Let’s not forget that Sato is the President of Gazoo Racing as well, Toyota’s motorsport division, which is great news for driving enthusiasts switching to EVs later this decade!
On the Lexus IS EV & Lexus ES EV
In December 2021, TMC revealed three new Lexus electric sedans, which could evolve into a Lexus IS electric (or a similar electric sports sedan), a Lexus ES electric (or a similar executive sedan), and a Lexus LS electric (or an equivalent electric full-size sedan). The global auto media is of the opinion that the concept in the featured image (top) previews the zero-emissions full-size sedan.
The coupe-style model below is probably the concept version of the electric sports sedan, while the image below it could represent the concept version of the electric executive sedan. These would compete with upcoming EVs like the BMW 3 Series Electric, Mercedes C-Class Electric, BMW i5, and the Audi A6 e-tron (Audi E6).
On the Lexus LS EV
The silver Lexus concept sports L-shaped daytime running lights adjacent to a smooth closed-off panel, and these lights lend the car a stronger brand identity and a bold character. This model is devoid of a conventional grille, and appears to only have a small lower intake. Toyota’s global design head Simon Humphries recently stated that radiator grilles are on track to transform into housings for sensors and cameras for emerging autonomous technology.
On the sides, the sculpted door panels accentuate an image of air flowing back smoothly. Along with the sleek greenhouse and the sharp kick in the beltline towards the end, they give the car a sporty styling. There’s also a hint of extra-aerodynamic wheels typically seen on EVs, featuring a two-tone finish.
New Spindle Body
While ICE Lexus models feature a spindle grille, pure electric Lexus models will feature a “Spindle Body.” Thus, the spindle shape will continue remaining the brand identity for Lexus, but it won’t be a polarizing grille. When Sato took over Lexus, the first thing Toyota Motor Corporation President Akio Toyoda told him was “to destroy the spindle grille,” so as not to be limited by anything from the present, Top Gear reported on August 17, 2022.
Lexus Global Design Chief Koichi Suga spoke about the Spindle Body to Automotive News in an article published on June 5, 2022. With increasing electrification, there’s no need for large grilles, and customers don’t want them either. The new Lexus RZ and the fifth-generation RX are representations of the Spindle Body design. Expect the IS and LS models to also incorporate the same, perhaps with further evolution.
The RZ does away with the in-your-face chrome-heavy grille for a composed front-end design. Equal visual emphasis can now be placed on other angles of an EV instead of just the nose. While talking about the future of the spindle grille in an interview with Luxurylaunches.com, Humphries had similar remarks. He said that the company developed the spindle grille not only for the radiator to cool down the engine but also for aerodynamic brake cooling.
He indicated that having a radiator grille signals the presence of an internal combustion engine in the car, and so, the spindle grille needs to evolve for the electric era. Its function should be to hide the sensors of the vehicle’s safety and driver assistance systems, the design boss added. When Lexus eventually gets rid of the internal combustion engine by 2035, it will be done with the polarizing spindle grille, too.
TMC has not revealed the release date or details of the next-gen Lexus LS or a full-size electric sedan yet. The next-gen LS will most likely come with either an electric variant or a similar-sized electric sedan sometime later this decade. TMC plans to offer all Lexus models as EVs by 2030. It aims to convert 100% of sales in Europe, North America, and China to EVs by 2030 and then in all other markets by 2035.
A pure-electric Lexus LS could be radically different from every generation of the gas-powered Lexus LS models. Featuring a completely new design replete with new brand signature elements, an efficiency- and space-focused bespoke EV platform, offering new levels of comfort and driving dynamics, and new autonomous driving functions, it could mark the reinvention of the Japanese brand!
Featured Image Source: Toyota Motor Corporation