Lexus to Produce Fuel Cell Vehicle in 2020

“Lexus wants to surprise and evoke emotion with its distinctive design and forward-thinking technology. For us, it is more than just a car; we want to exceed conventional imagination. The LF-FC expresses our progressive luxury and high-tech vision of a not-so-distant future.” Tokuo Fukuichi, Lexus International President.

The visionary Lexus LF-FC Concept (Lexus Future Flagship Car/Fuel Cell) offers a glimpse of the design and technology the company is considering for a future flagship saloon.

The concept is powered by a high-output fuel cell with all-wheel drive and incorporates new gesture control and automated driving technologies. It underlines Lexus’s commitment to have a fuel cell car in its model range from around 2020.

Lexus believes the solutions to energy and emissions issues offered by the fuel cell vehicle make it the closest technology yet to the ultimate eco-car, with hydrogen providing an ideal, ultra-clean source of energy.

A hydrogen fuel cell achieves outstanding energy efficiency – about twice that available from current generation petrol and diesel engines – and emits only water, producing zero CO2, NOx and particulates. It not only saves energy and drives down costs, it also offers the convenience of a long driving range from a tank of fuel and a fill-up process that takes only about as long as for a conventionally powered vehicle.

In addition, a fuel cell powertrain gives an exceptionally quiet and smooth drive, with the bare minimum of noise and vibration, making it an ideal choice for the luxury automotive segment.

Lexus intends to build on this existing technology, further adapting it to ensure it delivers the kind of performance it envisions for a luxury flagship model.

Exterior design
The LF-FC Concept presents a new styling theme that embodies Lexus’s L-finesse design philosophy. From every angle, this new saloon is powerfully elegant, exuding the spirit of a grand tourer. The front is dominated by an evolution of Lexus’s signature grille, flanked by slim, triple-L LED headlamps. The daytime running lights are set in an arrowhead arrangement and emerge seamlessly from the front wings in a floating effect that is also applied to the striking design of the tail-lights.

Viewed in profile, the four-door coupe displays a slim glasshouse and a sweeping roofline. The sporting 21-inch aluminium alloy wheels feature rims made from a carbon fibre material that add extra dynamism and flair to the elegant side view.

Interior design and touchless technology
The interior embodies the next generation of Lexus luxury in an expansive space that wraps the occupants in an innovative and comfortable environment and provides the driver with a highly functional cockpit.

The cabin features ‘floating’ front seats and spacious, limousine-style rear accommodation with reclining seats. The interior is trimmed with high-quality aniline leather and real wood finishes.

The car has controls that can be operated using hand gestures, with no need to actually touch the contact panels. This next generation interface responds to natural movements to provide a more relaxing driving experience. Images of the navigation, air conditioning, audio and other multimedia controls are projected into the air above the centre console. Sensors detect the driver’s movements, analyse the images and initiate the desired function or control operation.

High-output fuel cell powertrain
The heart of the LF-FC Concept is a high-output hydrogen fuel cell power system. Its design is based on existing technologies, with upgrades to improve vehicle and driving performance. For example, the higher fuel efficiency secures a longer potential cruising range.

The system drives the rear wheels and also sends power to two front in-wheel motors to give the car all-wheel drive. This innovative approach allows for precise control of torque distribution between the front and rear wheels, gaining superior high-speed stability and exceptional handling performance.

The elements in the powertrain have been located to secure ideal weight distribution and perfectly balanced handling characteristics. The fuel cell stack is located at the rear of the vehicle, the power control unit at the front and the T-shaped hydrogen fuel tank down the spine and along the front line of the rear axle.

Automated driving technology
The LF-FC Concept uses automated technologies to provide a safe and efficient driving experience and support Lexus’s integrated safety management concept goal of achieving zero road traffic accident casualties.

It is equipped with the Mobility Teammate Concept, which defines an overall approach to automated driving. The system is similar to that used by the Highway Teammate Vehicle, with a stereo camera, five millimetre-wave radar units and six light detection and ranging sensors (LIDARs) to provide 360-degree monitoring of the car’s surroundings.

The system is designed to fully automate all the operations required for highway/motorway driving, including traffic merging, lane keeping, speed adjustments, lane changing and overtaking. The intention is to ensure safety, reduce fatigue and reduce traffic congestion.

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