Motoring Australia recently spent two laps test-driving the new Lexus E-Axle hybrid driving system:
We were given access to drive an early Lexus prototype vehicle – we can’t even say if it’s an SUV or a passenger car –that previews the brand’s next hybrid system designed to improve driving dynamics, not just fuel economy.
All the extra gubbins represent the first stage of the Lexus E-Axle system. It’s understood this system will eventually be called ‘posture control’ which was first detailed in the four-motor Lexus LF-30 concept.
The system uses an advanced electric motor on the rear axle, providing a power boost and better weight distribution:
As I dial in throttle the car comes alive, delivering the sort of progressive but potent thrust usually associated with EVs. I can still hear the front-mounted engine whirring away but the electric motor(s?) driving the rear axle transforms the car.
The smart E-Axle system is intuitive and never feels ad hoc or jittery, delivering a seamless, progressive injection of instant electric motor torque, rather than a basic ‘analog’ system that just kicks a few extra Newtons rearwards.
Project leader Shinya Ito explains the prototype is a preview of the third-generation Lexus hybrid system:
“Launch timing is not decided yet. It’s under investigation and in the near future,” is about as much as his PR minders will allow him to say.
Though the prototype vehicle has a patchwork appearance inside, the execution is sound, delivering significantly more oomph than current conventional Lexus hybrid systems.
Ito won’t give away too much about the specifics of the powertrain, probably because things will change as development continues. He says the current development system belts out around 220kW. The batteries and electric motor/s are also more potent than previously and run harder for longer.