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Koji Sato: Electrified Vehicles are “A Big Opportunity” for Lexus

Lexus LF-1 Limitless

Autocar India has an interview with Lexus International executive vice-president Koji Sato on the brand’s plans for electric vehicles:

How is Lexus readying for the advent of new-age technology like electric drivetrains and autonomous control? Some say Lexus has been lagging behind on some of these fronts.

Sato: Well, I would say that is not entirely correct. We believe that when it comes to electrified and autonomous vehicles, we also need to look at the market conditions and the state of the available infrastructure. And it’s important that we match the readiness of both those aspects. So in that sense, we’re not behind as far as new technologies go.

With EVs coming in sooner rather than later, do you think this is going to be an opportunity for you to redefine the Lexus brand?

Sato: Yes, I think so, especially with EVs. It’s a big opportunity for us to change the structure of the vehicles by using batteries. We are the pioneers of hybrid technology and have enough knowledge to manage hybrid systems. That will help us enhance EV technology, so it’s a great opportunity to make a better car.

While all signs point towards a major EV push from Lexus, all of the brand’s major competitors already have electrified products available in dealerships.

(That said, this fits with the Lexus strategy of waiting for sustainable growth before releasing products — both the NX and UX crossovers were behind the release curve of competitors, and both models have quickly established significant market share in their respective segments.)

internalaudit

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To be honest, I think I will pounce once the UX300e (or any Lexus BEV) is made available in Canada (as a sign of desperation lol) maybe even if it isn't AWD as long as it's somewhat affordable. If my wife needs bigger cargo space, she can take our 16 RAV4H lol.
 

ssun30

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Since we won't get the latest 330e here, I would be really grateful to hear somebody's driving experience with that vehicle.

Oh those Germans really know how to impress with spec sheets. 12 kWh battery with 41 mi range in EV mode. That's abmormally high considering this is U.S. numbers. The 330e would need to be 20% more efficient than the Prius Prime or the Tesla Model 3. So I highly suspect the rated range is in blended mode (ICE allowed to recharge the battery) like Gen.1 Prius PHV and Honda Insight PHV. I hope someone can confirm my speculation.

And it also has that 'xTraBoost' mode to gain favorable reviews. Auto journalists will absolutely love the temporary 'extra boost' to 282hp. Such 'cool to have but not necessary' feature will probably never be on, say, an IS PHV because it harms reliability. Lexus will just stay with the standard 215hp on the regular hybrid and every review will complain how slow it is compared to the competition.
 

internalaudit

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I didn't realize until early this week (or last week) that Panasonic owns the Tesla battery cells. I admit I don't peruse Tesla's financial statements as I don't short stocks and don't want to risk losing money by going long TSLA shares over the long-term.

Once Tesla and/or Panasonic pulls out, Toyota (or other car makers that tie up with Panasonic) could be the winner.

From my limited reading, Panasonic's battery chemistry is superior in almost every way except for the extra heat generated as well as the likelihood of catching fire. Of course Toyota being a more conservative company, may want to tweak the chemistry into something more stable if its solid state battery technology needs a few more years before commercialization.

Just wanted to share the good news that in a few years' time, 300 mile BEVs will be more the norm instead of being the exception while Tesla boasts 400-500 mile BEVs. :)

To be honest, I think a 250 mile (all-year round) BEV suits 99% of my household's travel just fine but yeah, during winter, the driving range could drop by 35-50% here in Toronto, Ontario, Canada where temperature could be around -10 to -20C during winter. So to be honest, if Toyota can come up with a 300 mile / 250 mile (winter) range AWD BEV, I think I'm good with it.



Tesla doesn’t own the battery-cell technology that goes into its batteries; that belongs to its partner, Japanese conglomerate Panasonic PCRFY, -1.36% 6752, -0.89% . Tesla designed the battery pack the enclosure that houses the battery cells) and the battery management system controller (computer) that routes and manages electricity flow and the microclimate of the battery cells.

The battery is a key technology for Tesla, but at the moment Panasonic is in control of a big part of it. Just as Apple chose to bring development of the CPU that powers its iPhone in-house, Tesla, which is vertically integrated, may eventually increase its control over its battery technology. The company’s purchase of Maxwell Technologies, which has a battery technology that may significantly lower the cost of cell manufacturing, is the first move toward independence from Panasonic.

On the one hand, this strategy has a great appeal because if Tesla is able to produce a better (more durable, lighter, longer-range, faster-charging) battery at a lower cost, it could become a source of a competitive advantage. Today Tesla doesn’t fully control its destiny when it comes to batteries, so if BMW BMW, +1.41% decides to use Panasonic’s cells, Panasonic will gladly supply it. BMW would still have to develop its own battery management controller, though.
 
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internalaudit

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The prospect is real enough that Toyota and Panasonic, two giants in their respective industries, pooled together to push solid-state prismatic battery development. Toyota hopes to start putting them in mass-produced cars during the next decade – with additional production being available to other manufacturers. Given the scale of production that’s envisioned, this looks like a multi-billion-dollar investment. For Toyota, these new batteries are what it feels are needed to launch EVs into the mainstream. Similar to the long-range approach the company took to hybrid and fuel cell development, Toyota disclosed it’s been doing fundamental research on solid-state batteries since 2010.

Its target is a cost-effective, compact, lightweight, 500-mile range battery by 2030. The energy density will more than double the best current lithium-ion batteries at half the output density. Further, Toyota says the more compact construction possible with a solid-state battery will make them less intrusive. In addition, they’re more thermally resistant, so they will not need the complex cooling systems of current batteries and will be less prone to fires. And they’ll charge faster, too.

While the Toyota-Panasonic group posits 10 years as the likely time horizon for solid-state batteries, Volkswagen thinks it can short circuit that timeline. The giant car company has teamed with a high-power startup that spun out of Stanford University, QuantumScape. They expect their $100-million investment to turn into solid-state batteries for the pantheon of VW EVs planned by mid-decade, though initial volumes may be low. Fellow German automaker BMW says it too plans on having solid-state batteries in its lineup by 2025.
 

ssun30

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"twice the energy density at half the output density" doesn't sound so encouraging does it?

The state-of-the-art Li-ion batteries today have 300Wh/kg and 3C discharge rate or 900W/kg. So they are saying their SSB will have 600Wh/kg but less than 500W/kg? This means the battery will cycle at less than 1C.

First this would mean no premium, performance, or utility vehicle will be able to use the SSB. Even at 200kWh the output will be less than 200kW or 270hp. That's not sufficient for these applications. (They will probably use FC instead). The bigger problem is that this battery will take over an hour to fully charge, as opposed to some of the upcoming fast-charging Li-ion BEVs that can charge in less than 30 minutes.

I was expecting them to get at least 2C cycle rate out of SSBs. But there's no free lunch in the battery world.
 

Will1991

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@ssun30 , Tesla's Model S P100D does have upwards of 500kW from a 100kWh battery, giving something a bit higher than 5C.

And even energy density from 18650 or 2170 cells is around 250Wh/kg, so, if they're stating a 500Wh/kg with around 2~2.5C, it's a good achievement.
 

internalaudit

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Exactly what I was saying year or two ago


Toyota and its luxury brand Lexus will offer three electric models within the next two years, the company has confirmed.

While no more details were given on the models, a futuristic, electric Lexus concept, to be revealed next week at the Tokyo motor show, will demonstrate the technology behind the upcoming EVs ahead of production.

Talking at the launch of the revised RX, deputy chief engineer Naohisa Hatta said: “If you look at a hybrid, it’s [made up of] a battery, engine, motor and PCU. If you increase the battery part, then it becomes a PHEV. If you take ICE out, it becomes pure EV.

“We already have the technology. We’re waiting for the right time. It has to make business sense. It has to make profit. If you look at the facts of what’s happening in the market now; for example, PHEV technology is reflected in the price [of cars]. If we are going to have an EV in the line-up it has to be affordable to normal users.”

Debating the comparison between Toyota and Lexus’s hybrid system and PHEVs, a spokesman said: “Today, the most efficicent route is the hybrid drivetrain in real-world situtations.” It cited third-party data which shows that PHEVs are often run on petrol alone, giving an example of an RX achieving 43mpg versus a PHEV rival achieving 32mpg.

While Toyota and Lexus remain reserved on the introduction of EVs and PHEVs, confirmation that the brands will introduce three zero-emissions models by 2021 reflects the need to meet increasingly stringent emissions targets globally.
 

krew

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Lexus and Toyota will debut three pure electric cars by 2021, as confirmed to Auto Express by Lexus executives.
It’s unclear at this point which models will be offered with EV powertrains, and how the three models will be split between the two brands. The Lexus EV concept set to debut at the Tokyo Motor Show is said to be a design study and not meant for production, while rumours of a EV UX crossover have persisted for two years.
Lexus executives also discussed plug-in hybrids with Auto Express:

Lexus, meanwhile is ready and able to offer plug-in hybrid...
Continue reading...


 
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I’m praying that the Gen2 Toyota Mirai previews the next GS. Instead of Hydrogen fuel cells, it could be a Tesla fighter EV. This will eliminate the GS out of the traditional lineup and allow the ES to become more upscale; while allowing the GS to remain relevant.
 

CRSKTN

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I’m praying that the Gen2 Toyota Mirai previews the next GS. Instead of Hydrogen fuel cells, it could be a Tesla fighter EV. This will eliminate the GS out of the traditional lineup and allow the ES to become more upscale; while allowing the GS to remain relevant.
Have you seen any indications of the size of the Mirai 2? It's hard to tell from the photos they've released, but honestly it looks huge (like at least LS sized).

Would be interesting to see the GS become the lexus FC vehicle, but not sure if they're saving that for a version of the LS specific to certain markets or not.
 

Joaquin Ruhi

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Lexus and Toyota will debut three pure electric cars by 2021...It’s unclear at this point which models will be offered with EV powertrains, and how the three models will be split between the two brands.
My best guess is that the 3 pure electrics debuting by 2021 are Toyota C-HR EV, Toyota Izoa EV (a near-identical C-HR twin sold only in China) and Lexus UX 300e.

Have you seen any indications of the size of the Mirai 2? It's hard to tell from the photos they've released, but honestly it looks huge (like at least LS sized).
Mirai 2 isn't that large. The RWD unibody TNGA architectures (TNGA-N and GA-L) come in three wheelbases:
short: (2870mm / 113") on Lexus LC
medium: (2920mm / 115") on Toyota Crown 15 and Mirai 2
long: (3125mm / 123") on Lexus 5LS

Although Crown 15 and Mirai 2 share the same wheelbase, the latter is 65mm (2.6") longer. Mirai 2 is 260mm (10.2") shorter than Lexus 5LS. Before the Toyota Crown made its move to the TNGA-N architecture, it shared its wheelbase and general size with Lexus GS, so others that have compared Crown and the new Mirai to GS have been spot-on. For more perspective, compare side views of Mirai 2 (top) and Crown 15 (bottom)





 
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Will1991

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In two or three years it must be a minimum 400/500km real world range... Anything less will be uncompetitive...

2/3 years time we will be seeing (for example):
-Ioniq mk2, with the current facelift doing upwards 300km;
-Kauai facelift, it should get some improvement but even now it does upwards 400km

Not to mention Tesla’s Model 3, it should get a improved base version with higher range..
 

ssun30

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It will be the C-HR EV, Izoa EV, and UXEV. So basically it's one EV not three.

In two or three years it must be a minimum 400/500km real world range... Anything less will be uncompetitive...
Currently there's no magic battery breakthrough that gives extra range for free. All range upgrades will come at a cost, the only difference is who takes that burden. The reason EVs have improved in range for seemingly no extra cost is because the old models suck. But that doesn't mean the trend is guaranteed to continue. TM3 is almost at the point of diminishing returns.

EVs are great in that range and power are so easily scalable, but the cost is also painfully scalable. A 100kWh commuter sedan will be just as expensive as a luxury SUV, so manufacturers have little incentive to make the former. Any mass market EV with 500km range needs to be subsidized. 300km is what most of us will have to live with for the first half of the next decade.
 

internalaudit

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I think you are forgetting that Panasonic currently owns the batteries put into Tesla's.


Once the JV is called off (that's after Tesla starts building its own battery), guess who will Panasonic turn to as partner in the United States? Toyota and Panasonic already have a tie-up for battery manufacturing in Asia and I believe Panasonic already sells Toyota those Ni-mH batteries.

Telsa fanboys will be so happy with their 400-500 mile BEVs while I'll be happy to settle for a 300-350 mile BEV that's better built and may last decades with very low upkeep.

And that 300-350 mile range is pre-solid state batteries from Toyota. By 2025 or sooner, solid state batteries could provide terrific range that there's no more need for Toyota to join Tesla's pissing contest.

Seriously, 300 mile range all-year round for me is good enough but manufacturers are not focusing on cold climate markets like Canada, Nordic countries and are just putting in bigger and bigger batteries when they could improve cold weather driving range more inexpensively.
 
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Will1991

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It will be the C-HR EV, Izoa EV, and UXEV. So basically it's one EV not three.

Currently there's no magic battery breakthrough that gives extra range for free. All range upgrades will come at a cost, the only difference is who takes that burden. The reason EVs have improved in range for seemingly no extra cost is because the old models suck. But that doesn't mean the trend is guaranteed to continue. TM3 is almost at the point of diminishing returns.

EVs are great in that range and power are so easily scalable, but the cost is also painfully scalable. A 100kWh commuter sedan will be just as expensive as a luxury SUV, so manufacturers have little incentive to make the former. Any mass market EV with 500km range needs to be subsidized. 300km is what most of us will have to live with for the first half of the next decade.
Do you have any info for the IZOA/C-HR? I've been looking for it but I haven't found anything...

That's also the problem, 3 years from now should be a 2022 lauch as MY2023, is Toyota reckoning it's going to pay EU fines regarding Lexus fleet emissions? And I'm not seeing how they will ramp up sales for BEV's and FCEV's to amount to 10% of total sales in 2025 (as they have stated 1 million by 2025), with only 2 years of proper sales...

As far as TM3 goes, that's quite fine for me if this push on power/range/efficiency brings us a better Toyota/Lexus BEV, I was really looking forward for this car and I will rent one to test it (and feel a proper BEV powertrain) in my journeys... But in the end of the day... It's proving really hard to leave Toyota...

I think you are forgetting that Panasonic currently owns the batteries put into Tesla's.


Once the JV is called off (that's after Tesla starts building it's own battery), guess who will Panasonic turn to as partner in the United States? Toyota and Panasonic already have a tie-up for battery manufacturing in Asia and I believe Panasonic already sells Toyota those Ni-mH batteries.

Telsa fanboys will be so happy with their 400-500 mile BEVs while I'll be happy to settle for a 300-350 mile BEV that's better built and may last decades with very low upkeep.

And that 300-350 mile range is pre-solid state batteries from Toyota. By 2025 or sooner, solid state batteries could provide terrific range that there's no more need for Toyota to join Tesla's pissing contest.

Seriously, 300 mile range all-year round for me is good enough but manufacturers are not focusing on cold climate markets like Canada, Nordic countries and are just putting in bigger and bigger batteries when they could improve cold weather driving range more inexpensively.
I think Tesla's chemistry is outside this JV.... I think I read something in this regard...

But 300 miles is 480km, you're being a bit more ambitious than me, but would be amazing since (at least here in Portugal) our charging network is starting to pick up.... With only 50kW "fast chargers" but we're getting a nice coverage in the next 2/3 years.
 
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