While slow out of the EV gate, Lexus has initiated its own full electrification strategy in the form of the RZ 450e. Wayne Gerdes – CleanMPG – Feb. 27, 2023 2023 Lexus RZ 450e The road ahead is fraught with risk while Lexus is attempting to make that drive as seamless as possible with their all new BEV. Encinitas, CA – This modern city of 60,000 located on the Pacific Coast is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in all of Southern California. It is known for its forward-thinking conservation, lending a helping hand spirit, and especially its hard-core biking and surfing community. Within, Lexus is providing a short look into its next generation of energy saving transportation solutions under the moniker ‘Lexus Electrified’ While its BEV-specific platform (e-TNGA) underpinnings are borrowed from the bZ4X and the DIRECT4 AWD system technology possibly from the Subaru Solterra, the all-new RZs more upscale driving experience both inside and out will be unlike the hybrid and plugin hybrid siblings offered within the Lexus brand. This is after all the first all-electric BEV from the luxury marque. Moving “Beyond Zero” – I could not help including the all-encompassing electrification Toyota tag line, Lexus promises this will not be the first as they strive to offer 100 percent BEVs globally by 2035. Steering the RZ 450e via Yolk The all-new RZ 450e’s possible game changing standout feature is the optional “Steer by Wire” with an aircraft style yolk vs std. wheel system. It could take a few years of tuning but in the end, steer by wire just like modern jets fly by wire systems will be the de facto standard. Tesla’s attempt was a colossal misstep as they simply added a yolk with a higher ratio steering box and little to no tuning. Toyota/Lexus on the other hand are taking their time to provide not only a more reliable attachment to the EPS with a semblance of road feel, but they are also attempting to provide a more normal end user feel while being completely disconnected from the steering box. I am not sure if they have a “Steering by Wire” RZ 450e here or not, my fingers are crossed so I to can experience their own first generation on both slower speed coastal secondaries and its feel while cruising the 5 at 70 mph. Instead of detailing the design, let me just highlight what Lexus says about the “Steering by Wire” System. Although it will not be available in the U.S. at launch, Lexus did say it will be available “at a future date.” The Lexus-first Steer by Wire system enables the electronic exchange of steering and road surface information between the advanced steering control and tires via electrical signals, not a mechanical linkage. The control’s steering angle is set at approximately 150 degrees that may reduce the driver’s workload by eliminating the need for hand-over-hand operation at intersections, U-turns, parking, winding roads, and other driving situations. Unhindered by a sizeable standard steering wheel, designers crafted the steering control’s compact shape and lowered the instrument meter’s placement to encourage driver engagement and environmental awareness. This is entirely speculation on my part, but I suspect both the bZ4x and Prius’ lower instrument cluster placement was designed around the use of a yolk but in the end, Toyota found it was not quite ready for prime time. By the refresh of both of those models, I bet the steering by wire with a yolk will be the norm and remove the lower instrument clusters viewing problem from each. The Steer by Wire and yolk minimizes driver eye movement while naturally drawing the driver’s eyes forward with no top of the wheel in the way. The all-electronic steering and road surface information passed between the wheel and tires via electrical signals is the key to making this a game changing addition or an outlier that is tried and vanishes from the option list in short order just a few years from now. Apparently, Lexus focused on the quality and transmission speed of input and feedback to provide some sort of mimicked road feel. The system achieves maneuverability with precise feedback by blocking out unnecessary vibrations from the tires and brakes, only relaying vital driving information such as road feel to the driver. When Lane Tracing Assist is activated, the wheels are controlled as needed, allowing for gentle steering and vehicle movement. The vehicle’s overall maneuverability is still nimble and agile on winding roads and high-speed stability on the highways by optimizing a variable steering gear ratio according to road conditions and the scenario you are currently driving. 2023 Lexus RZ 450e Design Gone is the overreaching large “Spindle Grille” of the all-new RX, LX, and GX. In its place, a more subtle and slimmer approach to modern design called the “Spindle Body”. I do not come up with the names for these things. The grille uses a grille shutter to improve aerodynamic efficiency. When cooling air is not required, the grille shutter is closed to reduce air resistance. Unlike the bZ4Xs cladding surrounding the front wheel wells and working their way into the headlamps, the Lexus uses a more traditional look with wheel cladding as they should be – around the wheel openings, slimmer headlamps, portrait layout grille openings on the side and one standard horizonal opening across the lower front fascia. The lines are modern creating stark edges and shadows for that look of speed even while sitting still. Finally, Lexus has moved on and into the future with these small changes. RZ’s spindle shape design generates a distinctive roof spoiler to suppress aerodynamic force acting on the body in a crosswind. This ensures a more stable driving feel. The center of the roof is shaped to allow air to flow smoothly from the sloped rear glass surface to the rear of the vehicle. The ducktail shape on the end of the trunk reduces aerodynamic drag by balancing the aft air flow. In addition, the generated downforce contributes to a stable driving feel. An undercover is used to flatten the underbody to reduce aerodynamic drag. The rear includes a clean and simple horizontal design. A new spelled out LEXUS logo resides on the horizontal rear combination lamps. Five exterior colors are available with an available bi-tone color scheme using a solid black from the front of the spindle body to the upper hood and roof. The seamless acceleration and dynamic performance of BEVs is expressed in the exterior design. Lexus’ identifiable spindle grille is replaced by a BEV Spindle Body. The new front bumper design improves aerodynamics. This styling evolution ushers in a new Lexus aesthetic and establishes a new design direction for BEV offerings. 2023 Lexus RX 450e Interior A 14” landscape display is ready to greet its new owner. Inside, crafted touches and advanced technologies abound as expected with any Lexus. A pano roof creates the airy volume while passenger comfort is improved by an all-new heating system featuring a Lexus-first radiant heater. That low positioned drivers instrument panel carry’s over and I have the same concerns with it as I do with the bZ4X and Prius. With a yolk however, those anxieties would be moot. An ultra-suede door trim ornamentation, seats, and upper wood-grain console are as expected from the iconic Lexus brand. Two types of seat materials are used, including their synthetic leather called Nu-luxe and another synthetic called ultrasuede, an upholstery material of 30-percent-bio-based sustainable materials. Drivers and passengers can experience three interior colors options, including Thunderstorm, Palomino, and Dapple Gray. In addition, the world’s first Shadowy illumination changes the shade of light projected on to the door trim ornament when the doors are opened and closed, adding new flair to the interior space. 2023 Lexus RZ 450e with an Electrochromatic Clear to Opaque Light Switching Roof 2023 Lexus RX 450e Drivetrain The use of BEV-exclusive, high-capacity Li-Ion batteries and silicon carbide power semiconductor elements in the inverter, and low-loss technologies cultivated in the development of HEVs, all contribute to extending the single-charge cruise range. The current manufacturer-projected range is up to 220 miles with 18-inch tires and 196 miles on the 20s. Like the Prius, that is a hell of a hit for larger and more expensive wheels and tires. The RZ uses high-precision motor torque control and optimal battery and motor placement to achieve not only an ideal weight distribution but quick response. The DIRECT4 AWD system controls front and rear drive force according to driving and road surface conditions. The high-output electronic axle (eAxle) motor continuously controls the drive force of the four wheels according to the ground contact load of the vehicle regardless of road surface and driving conditions. The DIRECT4 distribution control uses wheel vehicle speed, acceleration, and steering angle sensor information to control front-to-rear drive force ratio distribution between 100:0 and 0:100. This contributes to improved start-up acceleration, handling stability, and low power consumption. The system uses an approximate front-to-rear drive force ratio distribution between 60:40 and 40:60 to minimize vehicle pitch during launch and straight-line acceleration, thereby achieving a direct acceleration feel. Vital information such as cornering speed and steering angle help to optimize drive force distribution according to various driving conditions and helps attain excellent handling stability. When the steering wheel is turned, drive force is biased to the front wheels (distributing drive force between 75:25 and 50:50). When exiting a corner, torque distribution to the rear wheels is further increased (between 50:50 and 20:80) to ensure ample traction while controlling vehicle pitch. The newly developed eAxle fully integrates the motor, transaxle, and inverter within a compact unit to benefit cruise range, spacious interior, and excellent design. In addition, the use of a high-efficiency inverter having an element in the rear, contributes to an increase in cruise range. A new pressurization unit enables front and rear regenerative braking through independent front and rear hydraulic control. The new braking system aims to provide an even more seamless and controlled braking. Based on Lexus’ hybrid electric technology experience and achievements over the years, the regenerative braking system improves regenerative energy efficiency to increase cruise range, while enhancing brake feel. Stable vehicle posture is achieved by optimizing the distribution of braking force to the front and rear wheels in response to the amount of braking by the driver. 2023 Lexus RZ 450e Chassis Design As mentioned previously, the RZ utilizes the e-TNGA BEV platform offering excellent stability and ride comfort by mounting the battery under the vehicle floor creating a low center of gravity. The body is strengthened by reinforcing the radiator support area and adding a V-shaped brace for excellent handling performance. Laser screw welding, structural adhesives, and laser peening welding technologies join the body frame to improve handling stability and ride comfort. The addition of a double ring structure and a highly rigid foaming agent prevents distortion to reduce deformation of the rear luggage opening. Up front, RZ rides atop MacPherson struts, while its rear uses a trailing arm double wishbone configuration. For the first time, Lexus uses Frequency Reactive Damper, a frequency-sensitive absorber that alters the dampening force on the extension stroke in response to road surface frequency input. With FRD, Lexus states their Driving Signature carry with better-than-expected steering feel and the linear responses of steering, braking, and acceleration operations are enabled. 2023 Lexus RZ 450e Safety The RZ uses the latest Lexus Safety System+ (LSS+) 3.0 that includes standard Pre-Collision System, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert, and Emergency Driving Stop System. In detail, LSS+ 3.0 on the 2023 RZ includes the following: Pre-Collision System: The system will provide an earlier timing alert and auto braking to help avoid a collision and/or possible damage Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (with full-speed follow function): The system will hold a time behind the preceding vehicle, adjusting based on the 4 distance settings and automatically brake when necessary Lane Departure Alert: The system will activate either the alert or the steering assist at an earlier time than usual Emergency Driving Stop System: When Lane Trace Assist (LTA) is activated, the system will decelerate the vehicle and stop within the current lane to help avoid a collision or reduce the impact of a collision Available Advanced Park with remote function expands support for parallel parking Additional driver and passenger comforts include radiant heaters to comfortably warm the passenger’s knees while working with the air conditioner to provide a warm temperature at a reduced rate of battery consumption. 2023 Lexus RZ 450e 2023 Lexus RZ 450e Pricing The 2023 Lexus RZ 450e should go on sale in early 2023 with the following retail prices: RZ 450e Premium AWD Trim with 18" wheels - $59,650 RZ 450e Premium AWD Trim with 20" wheels - $60,890 RZ 450e Luxury AWD - $65,150 D&H: $1,150 I sure hope they have a Steering by Wire RZ 450e for us to "try". I will let you know as I am heading to the short lead in less than an hour.