A new range-topping Lexus LS saloon will be launched with the choice of the energy of the hydrogen in the 2019, as the company seeks to capitalize on the leadership in the fuel cell technology established by the Toyota Mirai of its parent company.
Lexus’s rival to the Audi A8, BMW 7 Series, Jaguar XJ and the Mercedes-Benz S-Class is largely based on the LF-FC concept car that was unveiled at the Tokyo motor show in 2015. The LS is also expected to be sold with the choice of a V8 hybrid powertrain producing around 535bhp.
Lexus Europe head, Alain Uyttenhoven, said: “we know how to make the fuel cells and the only challenge is how to package a fuel cell in a car that also needs a certain level of performance.” He did not confirm plans for the LS, however. “Premium buyers have certain expectations. For refinement, the fuel cell is ideal, but we must also do a bit of work to demonstrate the right levels of performance.”
The hydrogen LF-FC concept had an electric motor driving the rear wheels, with the electricity being sent to two in-wheel electric motors in the front.
Its drive system allowed to precisely distribute the torque to the four wheels, resulting in “outstanding dynamic handling and superior stability.”
In addition, the placement of the power control unit in the front and storage tanks of hydrogen in the form of a ‘T’ configuration is said to allow “optimal” weight distribution for a sports sedan.
The LF-FC also had two driving modes. In the Cruise mode, the stack of fuel cells based on hydrogen and it creates electricity for the motor and the recharging of the battery. In Acceleration mode, the battery and the fuel cell stack powered the car main electrical motor in wheel electric motors for maximum power.
The new LS is expected to be a showcase technology for Lexus, with several driving functions autonomous, a new look interior that includes front and rear touch screens and the features such as a gesture controlled infotainment system.
The propagation of the stations of hydrogen fuel is expected to grow exponentially until the year 2019, but the reports suggest that Lexus has predicted that the hydrogen versions of the LS is sold “hundreds, not thousands” and the sales will be allocated in the large cities such as London, Los Angeles, Paris and Tokyo, where the diesel is expected to be out of the act to the year 2020.