By on October 23, 2019

Lexus just previewed its first electric vehicle in Tokyo, indicating that Toyota Motor Corp. is ready to launch an onslaught of EVs. While the LF-30 Electric is a concept vehicle through and through, it establishes the direction Lexus plans on taking as a brand while blowing the war horn for subsequent Toyota EVs.

Unfortunately, the marketing materials chosen by Lexus hinge on tired mobility tropes — undercutting the concept’s best attributes. The official video is particularly bad.

It opens with a suspiciously attractive couple getting ready for the day. One of them waves a hand in front of the bathroom mirror, awakening the parked LF-30 so it can make its way to the front door for pickup. A hovering briefcase follows them out of the house and we’re left with sixty seconds of emotionless, silent people running errands in an autonomous car.

We wouldn’t call it enthralling. You wouldn’t, either.

 

As Toyota is new to the electric car game, one could make minor allowances for its introductory attempt at EV-focused marketing. Still, something has to be said about this concept spot. It’s a tedious watch.

We’ve watched people (people better-looking than us, to be sure) swipe their fingers at floating CGI displays since the early 2000s. Holographic interfaces aren’t even fantasy anymore, and augmented reality is gradually creeping into vehicles. So why would Lexus assume we’d want to see more of the same with computer graphics and ideas that look straight out of 2002’s Minority Report?

We get that making autonomy exciting is a difficult request, since you’re basically forced to find excitement within the act of sitting in a chair. But the LF-30 has other interesting aspects the manufacturer could choose to lead with. Seats that mold to the occupant, in-wheel electric motors, roof-mounted displays, adjustable window opacity, deployable drones, or how about that wild (and genuinely interesting) exterior design?

Even though most of these features are almost certainly too fantastical for a production vehicle, Lexus could have spent more time showcasing the LF-30’s best features. It’d have given the model more of a personality, rather than hurriedly mimicking everything else we’ve seen over the last few years. Had Toyota gotten to the EV festival earlier, this wouldn’t have been as big of an issue. But it didn’t. The automaker needs to do more to set itself apart — otherwise we’re just going to confuse it with some other electrified Japanese concept in a week’s time.

Lexus didn’t even bother to populate the futuristic world in which the LF-30 lives with any other people. It’s a pristine and desolate universe, devoid of human life. Yet cars still have the ability to drive themselves… so you don’t have to deal with nonexistent traffic.

You’re losing us, Lexus.

Open instead with the LF-30 boasting a 110kWh battery pack, capable of a claimed range of 310 miles on Europe’s WLTP test cycle, and a combined power output of 400kW with 700 Nm (536 hp/516 ft-lb). Make the mobility crap play second fiddle — people aren’t dazzled by it anymore.

Sadly, we don’t anticipate Toyota will take us up on our advice. The manufacture decided to set up a “Mobility Theme Park” at the Tokyo Motor Show that includes such items as the e-Broom (see below). Here’s the copy the company whipped up for its new take on an old household classic:

It flies through the air? Experience first-hand mobility of the future!

Modeled after a broom used by a witch to fly through the air, this mobility platform integrates people and machines, allowing users to reaffirm the enjoyment of mobility.

Initially, your author thought this was a Halloween-style gag, but it’s been mixed in with other products Toyota plans to show off at the 2020 Summer Olympics. Toyota also plans to debut a new solid-state battery concept at that time. Assuming the hardware is legitimate, that’ll be a major win for the manufacturer and EVs as a whole.

Toyota’s in a weird place right now. Plenty of its new, mobility-focused products are beyond laughable, yet others are legitimately good ideas. The automaker just seems to lack the ability to differentiate between them. And that’s the story for the LF-30, as well.

It’s an interesting automobile that’s supposed to directly influence Lexus direction as a company and preview new design elements, but it’s too far from reality to hold any real meaning. Lexus says the exterior doesn’t foreshadow anything before 2030. In fact, the only real promise issued in Tokyo was that various “electrification technologies” will continue being developed for future models.

Lexus plans to unveil its first production BEV in November, likely at the LA Auto Show, and we’re curious to see if the LF-30 rubbed off on it in any way. After that, the brand said it has plans to expand its EV lineup by offering its first plug-in hybrid and a dedicated platform for battery electric cars. By 2025, Lexus claims it will offer electrified versions of all models — with the ultimate goal of having sales of electrified vehicle models “outpace those of conventional internal combustion engine vehicle models.”

[Images: Toyota Motor Corp]

 

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