Placing a focus on the handling benefits possible with electric motors, Watanabe said the concept’s use of individual in-wheel units was being explored for its production potential because of the superior handling characteristics that fully controlled, instant torque would give. “This is beyond the possibilities for cars as we have them today,” he said, referring to the system as ‘Advanced Posture Control’ and comparing its potential agility to that of a leopard hunting prey. The LF-30 is said to offer 536bhp and 516lb ft of torque, hinting at its performance credentials. While its top speed is limited to 124mph, its 0-62mph time is a relatively pacey 3.8sec.
Watanabe also suggested that the absence of a charging port on the concept car was a nod to a desire to do away with charging by cables and instead develop wireless conduction charging capabilities. “It does not mean the technology will be ready for our first production car on this platform, but in the future we want to enhance the luxuriousness of charging,” said Watanabe. “The idea of a contactless charging system without using cables is something we hope to accelerate development of.”
Talking about the battery range and charging speed Watanabe added: “It is not just about fitting bigger batteries for a larger range, because then you just increase the charging time,” said Terashi. “There is battery development to come – including solid state – but also the charging infrastructure is crucial. It is something Toyota and Lexus must look at and potentially invest in. We must develop more convenient batteries and services for customers, and we must also consider the life of the battery in the longer-term.”
Inside, the LF-30 is also highly futuristic, with a steering wheel that retracts when it is in an autonomous mode and extends when the driver wishes to take control. There’s little switchgear on display beyond buttons on the steering wheel which link to a heads-up display, so as not to distract the driver; functions are controlled by gestures instead. Meanwhile, glass roof-mounted screens are available for rear seat passengers to stay online and interact with the car using augmented reality. In one of Lexus’s more futuristic flourishes, the LF-30 comes with a support drone which can load and unload luggage.
The driving position was highlighted by Watanabe for its driver-centric design, described using the Japanese word ‘Tazuna’, which equates to ‘reins’, as used to control a horse. “A horse and rider have a connection, a mutual appreciation,” he said. “We are aiming for the same.” A steer-by-wire system removes any mechanical connection between the steering and the wheels, too, allowing “more flexible control and a more precise steering feel” according to Watanabe. Infiniti has previously tried such a system in production to highly critical reviews.