Lexus is going all electric, it seems, and now we’re getting the first clear look at the model that will begin that transition, the new RZ 450e.
Based off the same platform as sibling brand Toyota’s new bZ4X, we know it shares many of the same, underlying components but, for now, the luxury brand isn’t offering much else about the new battery-electric vehicle.
“The all-new Lexus RZ, where sustainability meets sleek lines and power,” was the only thing it said in a release accompanying these images — though TheDetroitBureau.com has been able to pull out some of the basic details about the new Lexus RZ 450e.
Toyota’s big EV push has Lexus front-and-center
First, an update on Toyota’s push into electrification helps put some perspective on things. The Japanese giant recently upped its investment in battery-based technology, to $35 billion. And it expects that about a third of the vehicles it sells worldwide will be pure BEVs. That means about 30 electric-only models coming to market by the end of the decade, and CEO Akio Toyoda pulled the covers off 16 of them during a Tuesday presentation in Japan.
That included a handful of Lexus models covering a range of market segments. We know the brand isn’t going all-SUV, as the event highlighted an upcoming Lexus LC-like electric sports coupe. We also got to see Toyoda driving the new RZ 450e rather aggressively around the corporate test track.
The RZ, officials confirmed, will become the first all-electric model in a complete transition to BEVs by the luxury brand — clearly a move acknowledging the luxury segment will move faster than mainstream marques. Brands including Volvo, Jaguar and Cadillac have already committed to going 100% battery electric, and BMW, Mercedes-Benz and others are moving in that direction.
A flexible platform
As for the RZ, it will ride on the same, skateboard-like platform as the Toyota Bz4X, meaning batteries and motors, among other components, will be mounted below the load floor. The platform will anchor much of the wave of BEVs both brands are planning to launch, though it will offer significant flexibility in length, width and even ride height.
It also will permit a variety of different powertrain configurations. While there may be a single-motor version in the works, the 450e part of the model name indicates the initial Lexus RZ will be a two-motor system. With one on each axle it will use the new Direct4 all-wheel-drive system that Toyota indicates will give even more rapid and precise control over where torque goes to handle both inclement weather conditions and aggressive driving.
Almost certainly, the Lexus model will offer more power than the 215 horsepower that the bZ4X is rated at in its initial configuration. And few should be surprised if it will launch from 0-60 in under 5 seconds, perhaps even 4 seconds, at least not if Lexus wants to appear competitive with the BEVs coming from its luxury competitors.
Other possible options
One of the questions we hope to soon answer is how many different trims the RZ will be offered in. Another likelihood would be an F Sport option. If so, will it be purely an appearance package or might there be an option to increase performance?
The RZ 450e, incidentally, is not the first all-electric model from Lexus. The brand already offers the UX300e in China. But the RZ will be the first all-electric Lexus for the U.S. and numerous other markets. The brand expects to be 100% BEV in the U.S., Europe and China by 2030, with the rest of the world to follow by 2035.