Lexus debuted its new GX SUV this evening, though we've known for some time it will be a rugged, body-on-frame vehicle based on the Toyota Land Cruiser. But what we didn't know until today is that the new vehicle's ladder frame could also be the basis for future EVs.
"With modifications, that's something that was considered during the original structural development of the [GA-F platform]," said Lexus Chief Engineer Koji Tsukaski. "You're going to start seeing different technologies, plug-in hybrids, going also into battery EVs. So the use cases might require certain modifications to [the ladder platform], but it was considered and the base design does account for the possible use [as a BEV.]”
Gallery: 2024 Lexus GX
The ladder frame construction on the Lexus GX offers several advantages for EVs. Not only does the frame configuration provide plenty of space to house heavy battery packs, but it provides flexibility in the placement of those batteries allowing for better weight distribution. Additionally, the body-on-frame design allows the ladder frame to underpin other vehicles, including trucks like the Toyota Tundra or large SUVs like the Land Cruiser and Sequoia.
The current Lexus GX platform dates back to the 2010 model year, and the new version is expected to have a similarly long life cycle, something confirmed by Tsukaski. "This base platform that we developed. It's something that we're gonna use for a while." He further added, "It’s completely different from a monocoque platform.”
Unlike monocoque or unibody platforms, which are designed with a fixed battery location, the ladder frame on the Lexus GX could allow for different drivetrain configurations. It may also mean the battery pack could be mounted in several locations, including under the third-row seats on hybrid vehicles or between the axles for full BEVs. The combination of flexibility and longevity should allow Lexus to continue refining its mobility strategy while providing a large platform for EVs ahead of future all-electric mandates in Europe and several US states.
The Lexus RZ 450e is currently the only fully electric vehicle in the automaker's product line, even though it was an early adopter of hybrid technology. Its lineup currently includes a variety of hybrid vehicles, however, including the RX crossover, ES sedan, LS sedan, and LC flagship coupe.