Vision of the Future

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Since the launch of the RX 400h in 2005, Lexus has been at the global forefront of electrification technologies. The brand’s new “Lexus Electrified” vision is yet another example of its pioneering stance, aiming to make fundamental leaps in vehicle performance, handling, control and driver enjoyment.

The new LF-30 Electrified Concept embodies this vision, featuring avant-garde innovations paired with an extraordinary appearance. Reflecting the futuristic form expected of a battery electric vehicle (BEV) but with an artistic and provocative touch, the vehicle’s semblance brings together smooth lines with powerful nuances.

Chief exterior designer Hideaki Iida explains the inspiration behind the vehicle’s visionary veneer: “I wanted to use the electric vehicle (EV) platform to create something that would break the tradition of a conventional luxury sedan, one that conveyed power, agility, and luxury. The front of the vehicle expresses speed, while the rear suggests a comfortable lounge. The middle of the LF-30 is lifted, but the roof line remains sleek and the tires planted firmly to the ground. And we wanted to ensure there was plenty of space for passengers: the LF-30 is the length of the LS flagship sedan and possesses the couple distance of the LM luxury minivan”.

Although the LF-30 does not feature the usual pronounced grille, Lexus’ signature spindle theme is referenced in the vehicle’s overall architecture. The lack of a hood has made way for a striking panel of glass that stretches from front to rear, which is flanked by muscular fenders, and wing-shaped headlights, echoing the contours of the iconic Lexus spindle. Furthermore, when in autonomous mode, a soft light highlights the spindle shape within the front fascia.

Through pronounced side air intakes, the gracefully flowing anterior transitions into a sharp linear posterior, perfectly matched to achieve both excellent aerodynamics and cooling performance. Upon closer inspection, it becomes clear that every aspect of the LF-30’s design has been carefully considered to produce the optimal combination of style and function.

Much like the exterior, the vehicle’s inside was also designed for visual impact. The car’s doors, which open and close like the wings of a glider, unveil an interior brimming with a bespoke assortment of technologies that showcase Lexus’ distinctive worldview presented in the form of a new-concept cockpit based on the human-centred design philosophy of tazuna.

“Tazuna refers to how a single rein can be used to achieve mutual understanding between horse and rider, as he or she melds with the outside environment,” says chief interior designer of the vehicle, Alex Gommier. “We also included steering controller-mounted switches, a gesture-control system and a heads up display to create a cockpit that enables drivers to focus on driving, even while operating different controls inside the car”.

With the layout of the front passenger seat mirroring that of the first-class in aeroplanes, the interior is one where a sense of openness and envelopment coexist. All switches and other controls, such as audio and navigation, are easily within reach and a gesture-controlled, large-screen display for the passenger seat ensures comfort and convenience for all the vehicle’s occupants. The rear seats use artificial muscle technology to mould to the physique and can support various modes such as reclining, relaxation, and alert functions. A Mark Levinson® audio system creates a cutting-edge listening environment, wherein speakers built into the headrests provide both top-class audio and a noise-cancelling feature that contributes to enhanced quietness. To round off the impressive interior, a glass roof above the rear seats features a gesture-controlled “SkyGate” display window that uses augmented reality to display various types of information, such as a realistic star-filled sky, user-favourite videos, and even navigation.

In addition to its unique design, the interior also reveals the direction of progressive luxury through its use of sustainable materials, further reducing the vehicle’s environmental footprint. Traditional Japanese yakisugi (charred cedar) is used in the floor and steering controller, while recycled metal is processed into fibers to create the pleated door trim. This eco-conscious approach expresses Lexus’ distinctive and innovative spirit, blending Japanese tradition with European design and an altogether forward-thinking mindset to create a truly bespoke form of luxury.

To evoke the original joy of driving while maximising vehicular safety, Lexus has developed a variety of technologies that have been incorporated into the LF-30 concept. The first is the Advanced Posture Control which adjusts the vehicle’s posture in tune with human sensibilities by regulating the drive-power output from high-torque electric motors. In addition, completely independent control of front and rear drive wheels allows for appropriate provision of front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, and all-wheel drive, depending on the driving situation. The vehicle’s compact and lightweight drive-power units further enable the driver to enjoy ideal driving, regardless of the road surface or driving conditions.

The revolutionary steer-by-wire system additionally enhances the driving experience by eliminating a mechanical connection, which allows more flexible turning control respective of the driving conditions, and gives a more precise steering feel aligned with the driver’s intention. Meanwhile, the in-wheel electric motors for each of the vehicle’s four wheels and the low positioning of the battery enable better handling of inertia and give way to a high-level driving performance. Every aspect of the LF- 30 Electrified concept expresses Lexus’ anticipatory vision for luxury in the future, showcasing its intent to provide the driver with a seamless and intuitive experience where confidence takes centre-stage.

As a next-generation battery electric vehicle, the LF-30 uses wireless charging technology to simplify daily charging. The vehicle’s artificial-intelligence-based energy management system facilitates optimal distribution of electric power to both the vehicle and the home, with the charging control coordinated with the user’s daily schedule. As an added touch, the charging corresponds to a nature-inspired motif of water drops illuminating from the ground up during charging to further hone in on the car’s respect for the environment.

The onboard artificial intelligence’s use extends further than just charging, though – it is able to distinguish the voices of vehicle occupants, and facilitates the adjustment of the interior elements, such as air temperature and audio, and the setting of navigation routes and destinations, while also making proposals for activities after arrival. Similarly, it is able to understand the driver’s preferences and assists in controlling the suspension and powertrain settings in real-time according to the driving scene.

The LF-30 also boasts leading autonomous driving technology based on the concept of ‘Lexus Teammate’. With superior driving support functions in the form of Chauffeur and Guardian modes, occupants can enjoy both comfort and peace of mind during autonomous driving with advanced posture control technology being employed. Furthermore, a self-parking function and a front-door pickup function, in which the LF-30 Electrified autonomously moves from driveway to doorstep, provides an especially high level of convenience. As does the ‘Lexus Airporter’ drone-technology support vehicle, which is capable of tasks such as independently transporting baggage from a household doorstep to the vehicle’s luggage area.

Offering a driving and lifestyle experience unlike any other on the market, the LF-30 Electrified gives an inspiring glimpse into the dynamic, fun and impressive future that battery electric vehicles hold.

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This editorial first appeared in FOUR’s 04.20 Edition.

Images courtesy Lexus.

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