Is another legacy car maker failing to fully grasp the current trends in the automotive industry?
Last weekend, while speaking at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, Lexus president Yoshihiro Sawa joined his German car industry counterparts in what is seemingly another cautious wade into the waters of the electric car. During his first visit to Goodwood, Sawa talked to the press about the electric future for his company. He revealed that Lexus is working on all types of electric vehicle powertrains - being developed in conjunction with their parent company Toyota - but they aren't going to leap into the electric car market any time soon. He believes that staying until the customer and environmental benefits are clear is a good way to go about the whole electric car thing.
“Our philosophy is to provide freedom of movement, so we have to develop technology on all fronts,” said Sawa. “We understand that electric is very necessary - more than some, perhaps, with our early move to hybrid, but we can also see that full EV will not suit everyone. You can’t make an electric Land Cruiser work, for instance - and there are people in remote parts of the world whose lives depend on that car."
“Pure EVs currently require a long charging time and batteries that have an environmental impact at manufacture and which degrade as they get older. And then, when cells need replacing, we have to consider plans for future use and recycling. It is a complex issue - much more complex than the current rhetoric perhaps suggests. I prefer to approach the future in a more honest way."
“If we are looking for the best solution it is my opinion that the best solution is not only EV; we must consider petrol, hybrid, plug-in hybrid and fuel cell. If we focus on EV only we will not provide the answers people need.”
Certainly, Mr. Sawa is more than qualified to make these assumptions. However, while we tend to agree in part with his conclusions, the sheer real-world examples provide us with a completely different view of things. The fully-electric Toyota Landcruiser conversion, or the record-breaking 2017, where we saw electric vehicle sales up more than 25 percent compared to the year before, beg us to differ. Right now, even some of Lexus’ primary competitors like BMW and Mercedes already offer plug-in hybrid variants of their flagship sedans, specifically, the 7 Series and S-Class, but Lexus is staying silent on the EV front.
While we're not ready to call it quits on Lexus just yet, these are not strong signals for an electric future from one of the world's most premier luxury car brands. If the trend within the company isn't reversed and more emphasis isn't put on electric vehicles, we fear the Japanese car company may soon face the prospect of doing simply too little, too late.