JapanTech

First Drive: The Lexus E-Axle Third Generation Hybrid System

Lexus ES E-Axle

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.

CRSKTN

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A pragmatic application of this technology could literally be the thing that helps Lexus both carve out its own niche further, and catch up on the performance side.

Putting it on the ES vs showing it off on the LS is what has me a little bit more curious about this, since it seems to imply this is not some halo-car technology (as we are seeing it on the new RAV4) for Lexus.
 

Sulu

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A pragmatic application of this technology could literally be the thing that helps Lexus both carve out its own niche further, and catch up on the performance side.
Using the powerful E-Axle on the FWD-platform ES could, theoretically, allow Lexus to transform the ES Hybrid into something that is more GS-like, with its RWD handling characteristics.

Putting it on the ES vs showing it off on the LS is what has me a little bit more curious about this, since it seems to imply this is not some halo-car technology (as we are seeing it on the new RAV4) for Lexus.
Why would Lexus put the E-Axle (Electric rear Axle) on the LS? It already has a mechanical rear axle.
 

CRSKTN

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Don't these add additional torque, these are like electric motors right? This sounds like it's a meaningful addition to the performance side. It's not just some electronic differential, no?

They're saying it's the predecessor to the LF-30 posture control 10-year target.
 
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Woah. Not bad. As an enthusiast I'm pissed that there is no more attention given to RWD cars like the GS and maybe convert the ES and RX to a RWD platform. Also where is the six or the eight cylinders? Application to F cars maybe? As a 4 cylinder hybrid this isn't bad. But you really got to get it together.

I'm simply being realistic, while I know Lexus' core competency is handling and when the GS and IS were new they were head over heels better than any car in the entire segment except Cadillac fighting for a tie here and there. This seems to me that these amazing developments they're making is going to easily make them better than the rest of the segment in terms of the intangibles, but on paper it's just par. Back then, literally EVERYTHING was boosted to the max.

I'm loving this development, however I want more and I expect more.

Regardless, good progress.
 

spwolf

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About time Lexus makes its own version of the Acura Sport Hybrid SH-AWD, which made its debut in 2013 on the RLX Sport Hybrid. Hopefully Lexus will see it fit to apply the technology to the front wheels of Lexus' RWD cars as well (a la the NSX even though the layout is different).
It has nothing to do with sh-awd at all.

This thing has 300hp at rear axle, not 36hp.

Point of oversizing it is not traction like in current e-four but performance and feel. So it would be pointless in LS, as idea is to make fwd car feel like RWD.

All that being said, few pointers are that it will require plugin or else they won't be able to get anywhere close to 300hp of battery output and plus it can't be too expensive since it is for FWD platforms mostly.

So possibly things like NX version of RAV4 Prime?
 

ssun30

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220kW is the combined output not the power of the rear axle I think...which the RAV4 Prime is already capable of achieving.

It will be a much much more capable system than SH-AWD just from the amount of electric power it gets.

I would prefer to be proven wrong because a 300hp E-Axle could mean something as powerful as the Polestar One, but I'm 99.99% sure a 600hp ES PHV is not happening.
 

thtupid

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I reckon this is what lexus was referring to as "posture control" a few months ago when they were talking about having no IS-F planned. I do have a question to the engineers/knowledgeable people in this forum though. Just say I have 100kw driving the front/rear wheels...is the effect, assuming no loss of grip, as having 50kw over the front and 50kw over the back? How about 70kw at the front and 30kw at the back? Because I was thinking...wouldn't the more powerful motor overcome the weaker one? Or do both motors contribute movement?

I also bet you that the "journalists" will complain about the infotainment system when the actual car comes out. It's just the go-to thing for a lexus here. In one review a so called "journalists" didn't even know how to work out how to set favourite calls and complained that he couldn't call his wife.
 

spwolf

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220kW is the combined output not the power of the rear axle I think...which the RAV4 Prime is already capable of achieving.

It will be a much much more capable system than SH-AWD just from the amount of electric power it gets.

I would prefer to be proven wrong because a 300hp E-Axle could mean something as powerful as the Polestar One, but I'm 99.99% sure a 600hp ES PHV is not happening.
It is definitely max motor output for rear axle, otherwise it would be same as what have today. They dialed it up for the test so it can be felt better so production would likely be less, especially since it is limited by battery anyway. Basic idea is that your car can perform as RWD when needed.

Dont expect anything similar from Rav4, otherwise it would be already in the PR and car they tested would be that Rav4 anyway, not just engineering sample.
 
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What I find a bit odd is that Motoring Australia say they're not allowed to say what model car it was, but the Japanese publication that published a test of this e-axle system at the same location were quite clear that it was a Lexus ES. Did they both test the same prototype?
 

spwolf

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What I find a bit odd is that Motoring Australia say they're not allowed to say what model car it was, but the Japanese publication that published a test of this e-axle system at the same location were quite clear that it was a Lexus ES. Did they both test the same prototype?
sure... just different market, different rules, as if internet does not exist.

ES is only vehicle they could test it with anyway, since they needed FWD and both NX/RX are on old platform.
 

Joaquin Ruhi

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What I find a bit odd is that Motoring Australia say they're not allowed to say what model car it was, but the Japanese publication that published a test of this e-axle system at the same location were quite clear that it was a Lexus ES. Did they both test the same prototype?
sure... just different market, different rules, as if internet does not exist.

ES is only vehicle they could test it with anyway, since they needed FWD and both NX/RX are on old platform.
Motoring Australia dropped several clues. They made it clear that it was a FWD-platform Lexus, which would narrow it down to CT, ES, UX, NX and RX. As spwolf correctly noted, it would make no sense to test this on an older, pre-TNGA platform vehicle, which only leaves ES and UX as possibilities. The final rear-end ES photo in the Motoring Australia article seems to be a huge clue, and wyvern's locating Japanese-language articles confirming it's an ES seals the deal.
 

Will1991

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I only have one question, how will they price it? Here in Portugal it goes from 55~75.000€ (rounded numbers), they can't give it a considerable premium otherwise it will be very close to a RX450h...
 
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It is definitely max motor output for rear axle, otherwise it would be same as what have today. They dialed it up for the test so it can be felt better so production would likely be less, especially since it is limited by battery anyway. Basic idea is that your car can perform as RWD when needed.

Dont expect anything similar from Rav4, otherwise it would be already in the PR and car they tested would be that Rav4 anyway, not just engineering sample.
Nope. Read the Motoring Australia article. It clearly states it's combined power at the bottom. Hell, if it's 300 hp at the rear wheels then you don't even need an engine at that point, just release that as the base spec RWD ES EV as it transitions to a RWD platform. Easy peasy.
 
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mediumhot

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Using the powerful E-Axle on the FWD-platform ES could, theoretically, allow Lexus to transform the ES Hybrid into something that is more GS-like, with its RWD handling characteristics.



Why would Lexus put the E-Axle (Electric rear Axle) on the LS? It already has a mechanical rear axle.
He meant e-motor to power front wheels but that is not possible due to packaging. NSX has e-powered front wheels because engine is in the back while RLX has e-powered rear wheels because engine is at the front. Acura uses two smaller motors while Toyota will use single big one with a differential. I don't expect any changes in ES driving character due to this addition, sure it will be quicker and bit more nimble if you push it but overall it will still be ES.
 

spwolf

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He meant e-motor to power front wheels but that is not possible due to packaging. NSX has e-powered front wheels because engine is in the back while RLX has e-powered rear wheels because engine is at the front. Acura uses two smaller motors while Toyota will use single big one with a differential. I don't expect any changes in ES driving character due to this addition, sure it will be quicker and bit more nimble if you push it but overall it will still be ES.
Actually, expect big change in character, that is the whole point of this, did you read the article?

Point is not the speed, but that it can act as RWD vehicle.
 
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