- the lf-z is a battery-electric concept and signals lexus's intent to sell its first ev by 2025.
- lexus will offer an electrified version of every model it sells by 2025, but says it will not abandon the traditional gasoline and gas-electric hybrids that sell in such big numbers.
- the lf-z features common concept car elements and other design features you'll likely see on the next rx and other upcoming lexus models.
more than a decade ago, we were lapping a white lexus lfa, then the most supreme example of japanese automotive engineering with a v-10 engine that sang to 9200 rpm. now, the priorities for lexus—like those of most carmakers—are crossovers with silent battery-electric motors and artificial intelligence. to denote how far lexus is reaching, it's only fitting that the new lexus lf-z concept uses a letter at the opposite end of the alphabet.
electric lexus orchestra
to be clear, the lf-z electrified (in case the energy source wasn't obvious) is not a direct preview of a future lexus electric car. it might turn out exactly that way, or it might not, by the time a production lexus ev shows up sometime within the next four years. by 2025, lexus will have introduced more than 10 new hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and battery-electric vehicles. at the very least, every model will offer electric assist in some capacity, as opposed to the six hybrids lexus offers today. the company insists it will offer "the right products in the right place at the right time."
as toyota has made clear, lexus's committment to evs isn't quite as extreme as the pleges that companies such as gm, vw, and jaguar have made. instead, for the long term it'll sell evs alongside gas-powered and hybrid cars as it moves to "carbon neutrality" for all manufacturing and recycling by the year 2050.
so, the lf-z will source its power from a battery. we don't know much beyond that, as lexus isn't providing details about power output, battery capacity, or range. the only mechanical bit lexus would share is that the lf-z uses direct4, an electric all-wheel drive setup that purports to vary the torque split between the front and rear axles much faster than conventional systems.
the futuristic design you expect
for now, pay most attention to the lf-z's design, which is a prettier, more production-friendly evolution of the company's first ev concept, the lf-30, from 2019. the body stance is a smattering of sedan, hatch, and crossover in one shape. from behind, the lf-z borrows the thin horizontal lighting strip first seen on the ux crossover and the refreshed 2021 is sedan. a blue stripe bisects the glass roof, which features electrochromic tinting. the roof itself still harps on the blackout "floating" trend seen on the current rx and nissan murano—with the same upturned kink on the rear doors—we thought by now had gone out of style.
no matter, the lf-z employs other popular tricks like pop-out door handles, side-view mirror cameras, oversized deep-dish wheels, and illuminated badges at all four corners. most fetching are the black translucent panels overlaying either end of the spindle grille, or what remains of it. the hourglass shape, for the first time, is solid plastic save for some square pattern cutouts that flow behind the panels. they hide some of the self-driving sensors (the "ltm" markings stand for "lexus teammate," a next-gen level 3+ system "in which people and cars communicate like friends"). the little blue nub and vertical cutout below the l logo is a placeholder for a camera and more sensors.
there's not much inside the lf-z we haven't seen already for the past six years of autonomous concepts: aggressive, one-piece bucket seats that don't look so comfortable, a deeply scalloped back seat, a yoke-style steering wheel, some accent lighting on the floor, and play/stop icons on the pedals. even the triple-screen layout doesn't seem so extreme anymore. what we see here—or rather don't see, because so many buttons have been removed—is a preview of the company's next-gen infotainment, which lexus desperately needs before 2025.
expect design elements from the lf-z concept to appear first on more pedestrian and popular lexus models, like the next rx. for maximum sales volume, an ev-optimized platform like this could also spawn multiple powertrains, including the millions of gas-electric hybrids that lexus and toyota have sold for more than two decades and want to keep selling so long as they're not made illegal. really, at this point, who knows what'll happen in the next decade.