The usual order of things is that an automaker releases a concept, then a production model, then it rests on its laurels for a year or two before starting the process over. Apparently, nobody told Lexus about that third step.
Lexus used its stage at the Tokyo Motor Show to unveil the LS+ Concept, its vision for the future of the automaker's flagship offering. Despite having released athis very year, Lexus is determined to keep looking into the future. And, surprise, surprise -- that future is largely autonomous and fancy as all get-out.
Its style is pretty ridiculous. The entire front end is a mish-mash of elegant lighting and a whole lot of grille. In fact, there's no part of the front fascia that isn't either a headlight or part of that grille. The rear end is slightly more sensible in this regard, with plenty of bold lighting, but at least the grille doesn't reach all the way back there. The rear end is much closer to the current LS than the front is. As with many other concepts, the side mirrors are electronic, because standard mirrors are so 20th-century.
The one piece of this concept that has the strongest roots in reality is its semi-autonomous system. Highway Teammate is capable of controlling the vehicle on highways, keeping the car in its lane and a sufficient distance from other cars. But unlike modern systems that do largely the same thing, Highway Teammate also claims to have a grasp on merging and diverging. The system is also capable of learning as it goes along.
Lexus hopes to put Highway Teammate on the road in 2020. If it were to do so, it would likely come attached to the current LS, since Lexus won't redo the whole thing in just two years' time. In fact, a good bit of Toyota's autonomous research to date has been done on a previous-generation LS. So, while the concept itself may never reach production, parts of it sure seem like they will.