We expected Lexus to introduce a concept version of the next-generation LS flagship sedan in Tokyo. We didn't expect that it would be a fuel cell vehicle.
The Lexus LF-FC concept features a fuel cell stack mounted in the trunk, with the power control unit under the hood and the hydrogen storage tanks running the center. Lexus says this design allows for optimal front/rear weight distribution for a sporty sedan-like feel. In addition to the rear-drive system, the car also has an extra pair of in-wheel motors up front to give it all-wheel-drive capability. No power or range figures were announced for the LF-FC, but high-end luxury buyers would expect more than the 153 horsepower in the Toyota Mirai, the world's first mass-produced fuel cell car.
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"The LF-FC expresses our progressive luxury and high-tech vision of a not so distant future," said Tokuo Fukuiki, Lexus International President.
That high-tech vision goes beyond the propulsion system.
Lexus LF-FC concept, 2015 Tokyo Motor Show
Inside, the LF-FC has a new human-machine interface that is operated by gesture controls, thus eliminating the need for touchscreens or buttons. It employs a small holographic image on the center console that indicates where the system can interpret your hand gestures. BMW recently introduced gesture control in the new 7-Series, but it is limited to just a few functions and the vehicle still requires buttons, knobs, and touchscreens. The version in the LF-FC would have to be far more robust. Other interior features include reclining rear seats, aniline leather upholstery, and front seats that appear to be floating when viewed from eye level.
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The most important aspect of the LF-FC is the look. A preview of the next LS sedan, it is a sleek and sexy take on the brand's L-finesse design language. Lexus says the look is "aggressively elegant, exuding the spirit of a grand touring vehicle." We don't disagree. The lines flow front to rear, the roofline has coupe-like rake, and the car's length gives it some grace. The front end features the now-familiar Lexus spindle grille, flanked by L-shaped daytime running lights. Massive 21-inch wheels that combine aluminum and carbon fiber-reinforced plastic give the car more presence and suggest sporty intentions.
While we expect the next-generation LS to come in regular gasoline and hybrid flavors, the LF-FC concept indicates a fuel cell variant could be in the planning—it was reported only yesterday that Toyota was looking to launch a fuel cell-equipped LS by 2020. Expect the new LS to debut at the 2016 Detroit Auto Show next January, and the on-sale date to follow within that year. The car may not look as sporty as the LF-FC, but let's hope it retains the elegance.
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