It's hard to fault somebody when they want to buy a Lexus. That is, of course, unless they want an electric Lexus. Right now, their options are pretty sparse; the Lexus RZ isn't exactly what we used to call a "Tesla-killer." But I get the sense the folks at Toyota and Lexus are tired of people being mad at them for their comparably slow approach to battery EVs, and here at the Japan Mobility Show, we're seeing a full-court electric press from both brands. Case in point: the Lexus BEV LF-ZC Concept, a very bold statement of an electric sedan that's actually headed to production in three years.
Gallery: Lexus LF-ZC Concept
First off, that name: it stands for Lexus Future Zero-emission Catalyst. I know, it's a bit silly and kind of a stretch, acronym-wise. But I do like this thing, especially after having seen it in person. It's a sedan – I don't know what else you'd call it, since it's definitely not a crossover – but it's a low, wide one with an almost coupe-like profile and rounded rear end.
Update: As Lexus' designers told me at the show, the production car will be a hatchback of some sort, and size-wise it's on par with the Lexus IS. Whether or not it will replace the IS completely is "under discussion," I'm told.
"LF-ZC is characterized by its sleek proportions, low center of gravity, spacious cabin, and an emotionally charged design that seamlessly blends functionality and aesthetics," Lexus said in a news release. That shape also gives the LF-ZC a claimed super-low drag coefficient of just 0.2.
It's also packed with apps, software services and sustainable materials, so it feels very much an EV for the moment – and future moments.
We have no specs yet on the battery involved and the power output, unfortunately. Lexus does say the car aims to have "approximately twice the range of conventional BEVs," or around 620 miles (1,000 kilometers), thanks to prismatic high-performance batteries. Perhaps it could even make use of those 600-mile solid-state batteries that Toyota has been touting as of late.
But we do know that power goes to all four wheels via Lexus' DIRECT4 system and that it includes the Steer-By-Wire system found on the RZ; this concept, at the very least, also includes similar yoke controls.
Also included are screens. Lots of them. There's a central display in front of the driver, and on the passenger's side, a wide, narrow landscape screen that looks bigger than some TVs I've owned. Lexus calls it the "digitalized Intelligent Cockpit," and the supposed benefit is a consolidation of various important functions within easy reach of the driver. "The controls for vehicle functions like shifting, ADAS, and drive mode selection are all located within the left digital pad. Convenience features such as music, climate control, phone and AI functions have been grouped within the right digital pad, designed for an intuitive and easy-to-use layout," the automaker said.
Besides the tech, the interior is full of bamboo: specifically bamboo fibers and fabrics woven with bamboo thread. The car joins a growing cohort of vehicles, especially luxury ones, where the use of circular and sustainable materials is prioritized as part of the automakers' overall CO2 reduction goals beyond just emissions.
Finally, we have the software aspect of this. It uses Toyota's upcoming Arene OS connected platform, which allows for over-the-air updates and new features to be added over time. It's also said to be able to "learn" how a person likes to drive, adjusting the hardware to their own acceleration and handling preferences. And it adds a new AI assistant to the mix called Butler, which serves as – you guessed it – a digital butler that helps with your daily needs behind the wheel.
It's hard to know where the LF-ZC will slot into Lexus' lineup. The automaker also debuted a luxury flagship model called the LF-ZL, so perhaps the LF-ZC will be a kind of Mercedes-Benz EQE competitor; that's certainly how it feels to me.
Either way, it's great to see Toyota and Lexus getting onboard the EV train. I look forward to seeing what this thing can do when it becomes a reality in 2026.