Tech

Lexus Takes Cautious Approach to Pure Electric Vehicles

Lexus UX Electrification

Lexus International president Yoshihiro Sawa shared the brand’s current strategy on electrification with Autocar:

“Pure EVs currently require a long charging time and batteries that have an environmental impact at manufacture and which degrade as they get older. And then, when cells need replacing, we have to consider plans for future use and recycling. It is a complex issue – much more complex than the current rhetoric perhaps suggests. I prefer to approach the future in a more honest way.”

“If we are looking for the best solution it is my opinion that the best solution is not only EV; we must consider petrol, hybrid, plug-in hybrid and fuel cell. If we focus on EV only we will not provide the answers people need.”

Sawa speaks to the scale that Lexus and parent company Toyota must consider when introducing electrification in their vehicles, all while suggesting there are major problems being ignored by competitors. In this regard, there’s no easy solution: there are significant long-term problems to rushing electric vehicles to market, and a more methodical approach makes the company appear slow and behind-the-times.

Toyota has announced plans to introduce more than 10 EVs by the early 2020s, so these issues will be resolved sooner than later. The company is also committed to the development of solid state batteries, which will be safer and more reliable than the lithium-ion power cells currently used in EVs.

Sawa also had this to say to Auto Express about a possible Lexus version of the upcoming Toyota Supra:

The next generation of Toyota Supra made its dynamic debut at Goodwood, but Sawa declined to say whether Lexus would have enough access to the project – a joint effort between Toyota and BMW – to consider using its underpinnings for a driver-focused model of its own. “I can’t speak about that,” he stated.

Comments
Q
I like that Lexus is so conservative about these efforts instead of diving in. It keeps their dependability so high and generally allows for more innovation with the technology instead of simply copying others.
That's not what they said about the Prius twenty years ago.

They did not expect the Prius to be dependable, environmental friendly, or safe on Day 1. It was full of quirks and didn't work well until two generations later.

They need to look back at how they achieved dominance in hybrids when they consider their approach to EVs.
ssun30
They did not expect the Prius to be dependable, environmental friendly, or safe on Day 1. It was full of quirks and didn't work well until two generations later. It lived off subsidies for years before becoming a profitable program.
Excellent point -- Lexus or Toyota should have launched an EV pilot program, with production numbers similar to the Mirai. Would go a long way to showing some experience with pure electric, while generating some buzz (haha). A limited-run Lexus EV would be a hot ticket.
Tesla's volume is very tiny, if we are talking Toyota/Lexus numbers it would be a staggering amount in comparison. There still is not widespread infrastructure as well. Where do you go to charge up?

I think a few of us said though, an EV would be right up Lexus alley in regards to quiet, less NVH etc....
Finally a decent car maker said no to this craziness

Am happy of this decision
Forget about pure EVs. Make plugins first. The Prius plugin is on its 2nd generation. Where's Lexus' version? BMW sold 942 5-series plugins last month, almost a quarter of its total 5-series sales volume of 4,311. This is way better take rate than any of Lexus' hybrid models vs non-hybrid models.

Lexus is missing the boat by not offering a plugin model. With plugins one can always charge at home daily while not worrying about finding charging stations when going longer distances on occassions.
ydooby
Forget about pure EVs. Make plugin hybrids first.
I used to think the exact same way too.
However, now with further insight, I can see that presently there are so many different engine formats, with simply no perfect format.

Atmospheric still good, but thirsty and emissions.
Small capacity turbos great, but the lag.
Electric turbos great, but no match for hybrids and beyond.
Turbo-diesels great, but the NVH, 4500 rpm redline, and the carcinogenic particle dust pollution.
Gasoline-electric hybrids with the new generation of batteries sandwiched beneath the rear seat base and fuel tank great, but still certain limitations.



Large capacity battery in the rear overhang plug-in hybrids great, but that 3x size battery pack in the rear overhang reduces trunk volume, adds enormous weight, and forces run flat tires, or a tire repair kit.
EV great, but the lithium ion batteries have a lot of limitations.
EV with solid state batteries great, but won't come till at least 2025 or beyond.

It's terrible that there are so many different choices, each with their pros and cons, yet no perfect choice.
Someone who rarely drives in peak hour traffic like me could prefer a conventional hybrid with a tiny battery pack sandwiched beneath the rear seat base for a full size trunk and conventional soft riding tires.
However, someone who daily drives in peak hour traffic may prefer a plug-in hybrid with a triple size battery pack so that they have a tremendous electric range, yet they would have to live with the tiny trunk size, the heavy weight of the triple size battery pack in the rear overhang, and either run flat tires, or conventional soft riding tires with only a tire repair can kit...
peterharvey
Large capacity battery in the rear overhang plug-in hybrids great, but that 3x size battery pack in the rear overhang reduces trunk volume, adds enormous weight, and forces run flat tires, or a tire repair kit.
True, gotta agree. The loss of trunk space directly negates its benefit in extended road trips where luggage capacity actually matters.

Perhaps the holy grail is really Mazda's Skyactiv-X, with its 56% thermal efficiency. (Toyota just bragged about its 40% thermal efficiency with its newly released Dynamic Force 2.0L engine, or 41% with hybrid.)
ydooby
Forget about pure EVs. Make plugin hybrids first. The Prius plugin is on its 2nd generation already. Where's Lexus' version?

BMW sold 942 5-series plugins last month. At 22% of the total 5-series sales volume of 4,311 for the same month, it is a WAY better take rate than any of Lexus' hybrid models vs non-hybrid models.

Lexus is missing the boat by not offering a plugin model. With plugins one can always charge at home daily while not worrying about finding charging stations when going longer distances on occasions. It is the best of both worlds and people who can afford luxury cars are more likely to afford the premium required by plugin hybrids.
Interesting numbers, thanks for posting that.
The 530e has like 16 miles of EV range which is barely usable. People buy it for the tax credit.

Here are the problems with PHVs:
>>Since they have a small battery designed for a modest EV range, the batteries go through much more charging cycles over the same mileage.
>>To have a higher cycle rating, the battery pack needs to be under-SOCed. Available energy is thus even less than the already low capacity.
>>The car needs to be drivable on electric power alone, so the battery pack needs very high power for its small size. The individual cells need to be designed for power density. Doing so necessarily reduces the energy density of the cell. (electro-chemistry 101: energy density and power density are mutually exclusive)
>>Most PHVs are designed with little power reserve (usually 70kW max power), so the battery will operate closer to its maximum rated power in daily driving. Therefore the cells need more cooling than in a BEV.
>>Having more cooling means lower packaging efficiency. Therefore the battery pack needs to be larger and heavier compared to a BEV pack (for the same capacity, of course).

To give a numerical example. The Prius Prime's battery pack weighs 118kg, with 8.8kWh nominal capacity and 70kW nominal power. This would give an energy density of 75Wh/kg and a power density of 590W/kg at the pack level. The Tesla Model S 85 has a 540kg pack with 85kWh nominal capacity and 400kW maximum power. The energy density is 157Wh/kg and the power density is 740W/kg*. Obviously Tesla has superior technology here, but this just shows how suboptimal PHV packs are. You cannot downsize the Model S pack by a factor of 5 and put it in a Prius Prime, since the battery will die after like 50,000km.

*The Model S pack has higher power density because it only needs to operate at maximum power for a short duration, whereas the Prime's pack is expected to operate at 70kW for much longer. Also the Model S pack has closer to 80% packaging efficiency while the Prime has less than 60%.

It's industry consensus that PHVs will be the major form of electrification in the first half of 2020s and continue to be the mainstream EV until 2030, due to the cost advantage over pure BEVs alone. However so far battery technology has not allowed a balanced PHV battery pack design that does not intrude cabin or cargo space. The situation will get better in the next few years.
@ssun30
And because that more charging cycles exactly I prefer the HEV over PHEV
Just use it in city and charge it with braking, this is the main Toyota positive point in Europe though,

Honestly who needs EV at the highway, using the EV at the start and at the congestion in the city is way logic
ssun30
That's not what they said about the Prius twenty years ago.

They did not expect the Prius to be dependable, environmental friendly, or safe on Day 1. It was full of quirks and didn't work well until two generations later. It lived off subsidies for years before becoming a profitable program.

They need to look back at how they achieved dominance in hybrids when they consider their approach to EVs.

Yes, Lexus needs to make its parent company absorb all the risk. But by that logic they shouldn't rush the LS-FC...
1) When prius went to US, it cost $19k MSRP after incentives and had a curb weight less than 2900 lbs. It was based on vitz platform though. It had been being built in a unique platform specifically designed for the prius, that was costly to begin with. Gen 1 still gets gen 4 traction battery modules!
2) Gen 2 had been being built on the same platform with the gasoline-only Toyotas.
2nd gen smokes both 3rd and 4th gen prius performance wise.
3) 3rd gen is the least reliable of all gens.
4) Gen 4 MSRP $25k (C platform)

Yet, both 1&2 were characterized immature. The traction battery is an environmental nightmare, still about the same as the last gen though.

Plug in and EV have some immature drawbacks too.
Excessive weight that handicaps driving dynamics and burning fossil fuels too.
They are expensive and their battery is an even worse environmental nightmare than standard hybrid Nimh battery! Long charging time, energy loss when charging faster, unstable renewable sources for BEV(think about the huge impact from natural disasters).

Toyota has spent huge resources on hydrogen cars. The camry hybrid powertrain is basically identical to the hydrogen Mirai, except the fuel tanks and the ICE/FC stack. Prius was the first step for realizing hydrogen cars. That's why it was named prius.

Only a looser would have change route from such an effort, just because EV has gained more attention.

In the worst scenario, Toyota will struggle with FCEV against BEV, just like it had been struggling with hybrids against diesel 20 years ago.
maiaramdan
@ssun30
And because that more charging cycles exactly I prefer the HEV over PHEV
Just use it in city and charge it with braking, this is the main Toyota positive point in Europe though,

Honestly who needs EV at the highway, using the EV at the start and at the congestion in the city is way logic
Yes. It's truly impressive how much Prius can stay in EV mode and minimize ICE on-time in urban commute. IIRC there was a test in Rome in which the Prius was in EV mode for over 60% of the time. Toyota has truly mastered energy management of HEV in this generation.
C
  • C
    CIF
  • July 23, 2018
ssun30
They did not expect the Prius to be dependable, environmental friendly, or safe on Day 1.
This is incorrect. I know the history of the Prius intimately. I don't have time to prove why you're wrong but I needed to point this out.
@CIF, I totally agree with you
Prius & Rav4 was hit from the start
Toyota was sure 100% of there success, both of them

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