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Lexus LF-30 Electrified concept debuts with in-wheel motors, in-trunk drone

It's got edgy style, a fully electric powertrain and a little flying worker bot hidden in the back. This is Lexus' vision for the future.

The "Lexus Electrified" vision obviously means you'll find electric components powering the concept.

Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

Earlier this year Lexus celebrated its 30th anniversary, and this week at the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show, the brand looks forward with the debut of the LF-30 Electrified concept vehicle. The concept, according to the automaker, embodies the "Lexus Electrified" vision that will define the brand's future powertrains, driving feel and design.

The concept is motivated by a quartet of electric motors, one housed within each wheel. Working in concert, they generate a peak 536 horsepower (400 kW) and 516 pound-feet of torque (700 Nm). That's enough thrust to motivate the 5,070-pound concept to 62 mph from a standstill in just 3.8 seconds. Not bad.

Much of that mass comes from the 110 kW/h lithium-ion battery pack mounted beneath the LF-30's floor. Lexus is claiming 311 miles (500 km) of cruising range between charges on the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP) standard. 150 kW wireless charging technology and AI-based energy management promise to simplify charging, coordinate charging schedules with the owner's schedule, and smartly distribute electric power for both the vehicle and the home.

Like most EVs, the low-slung battery -- and the low center of gravity it creates -- promises to aid driving dynamics. Lexus also claims that intelligent use of the concept's steer-by-wire system allows for a more flexible steering feel that adapts to driving conditions and the driver's intention. The concept also makes use of the Lexus Advanced Posture Control vehicle dynamics technology via its four independent electric motors to further customize and shape driving feel.

The exterior styling… let's just say it pushes the envelope of EV design. The LF-30's form builds around the architecture of its in-wheel motors and lack of an engine bay with an aggressive and aerodynamic shape. Imagine Lexus' trademark spindle grille stretched and enveloping an entire vehicle and you'll understand what the automaker's designers were going for with the wing-shaped headlights, massive cooling intakes at the front of the vehicle and heat exhausts deeply set into flanks and rear haunches.

The concept features a massive glass roof to create a connection between passengers and the environment around the vehicle. Meanwhile, the side window glass features adjustable opacity, allowing those passengers to balance openness with privacy. The profile is punctuated by the weirdest tail lamps I've seen in some time, mounted where you'd expect the rear quarter glass to be and wrapping around to the pointed rear of the vehicle.

Lexus Concept LF-30

First Mazda's "jinba ittai" and now Lexus has "Tazuna," the Japanese have quite a few terms to describe horse-rider synergy..

Lexus

Raising the LF-30's gullwing doors reveals the automaker's vision for tomorrow's cockpit centered around the Japanese concept of "Tazuna" or the mutual understanding between horse and rider achieved through a single rein. In the LF-30 this manifests as a yoke-style steering wheel surrounded by wrap-around displays and a large augmented reality head-up display. The front passenger gets their own wrap-around screen while rear passengers interact with their own augmented-reality interface projected onto the gesture controlled "SkyGate" glass roof.

Of course, the concept features autonomous driving with the front seats reclining into a first-class airline seat configuration and the steering yoke retracting into the dashboard. LF-30 Electrified is outfitted with Lexus Teammate chauffeur mode for self driving, summon and self-parking tech and Guardian mode driving-assist tech, at least in concept. And when the driver is ready to seamlessly transition back to human-piloted driving, the steering wheel can be summoned from its hiding place in the dashboard with a gesture.

The LF-30's "Lexus Airporter" drone is probably the most conceptual part of this already very out-there concept car.

Lexus

Perhaps the most conceptual bit is the 'Lexus Airporter' drone-technology support vehicle hidden in the rear of the vehicle that can autonomously carry out tasks like carrying luggage from the vehicle to the doorstep or other cargo related tasks. Lexus tells us that the drone is based on technology developed for its "Slide" hoverboard concept, which is to say it's probably not anywhere near real-world practical. However, the idea of a little floating bot that is sworn to carry your burdens seems right in line with Toyota and Lexus' robotics and mobility initiatives catering to elderly and differently abled drivers.

LF-30 Electrified gives us a peek at the direction that Lexus is steering towards for the next 30 years. It's electric; it's highly automated and (ahem) sharply styled. In the near future, the Japanese luxury automaker will start to integrate elements of the design and technologies behind it into its production cars with a goal of electrifying its entire lineup by 2025, with its first battery electric vehicle expected to be unveiled sometime next month.

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