Lexus developing electric-car platform, considering in-wheel motors

Electric cars are winning over even the most skeptical of automakers.

Last month, Toyota announced it was teaming up with Subaru to develop a dedicated electric platform for a new SUV. Now the company’s luxury division has told Digital Trends that it is also developing a new all-electric architecture for a future model.

That’s not all, though. Koji Sato, the executive vice president of Lexus International, told Digital Trends that the brand plans to “electrify” its entire model lineup, that it has developed a new design language that can better incorporate electric cars, and that it is working to develop new in-wheel electric motors for its electric cars. Toyota has also said it is working on developing solid-state batteries for electric cars.

2016 Lexus RX 450h F Sport

2016 Lexus RX 450h F Sport

In Lexus’s case, “electrification” could also involve fuel-cell cars, since former Japanese Emperor Akihito incentivized Japanese companies to prioritize development of hydrogen fuel cells over batteries. Lexus’s parent company, Toyota, sells the compact Mirai fuel-cell sedan for $58,500 in California.

Of course, Lexus’s electrification plans could also include more conventional hybrids, such as the ES 300h or RX 450h, the brand’s most successful hybrids to date. 

Sato told Digital Trends that the company is making a substantial investment in a new dedicated electric-car platform, though it’s not clear whether that will come in addition to the electric-SUV joint-venture between Toyota and Subaru or if it’s part of the same program.

One thing that could change as a result is Lexus’ design language. The most recent theme is built around huge “spindle” grilles that electric cars might not need, because of generally lower (and different) cooling needs.

Lexus design chief Koichi Suga told Digital Trends that the company has developed a new design language with a front end more appropriate for electric cars, but that it has not yet been approved by Toyota president Akio Toyoda. That new design language is likely to debut at the Tokyo Motor Show in October.



Lexus developing electric-car platform, considering in-wheel motors