BY KATIE - MYGREENPOD, 23 February '16

Lexus to introduce high-output fuel cell saloon in around 2020

The Lexus LF-FC Concept offers a glimpse of the design and technology the company is considering for a future flagship saloon.

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The ‘ultimate eco-car’?

The Concept, which incorporates new gesture control and automated driving technologies, is powered by a high-output fuel cell with all-wheel drive. It underlines Lexus’s commitment to have a fuel cell car in its model range from around 2020.

According to Lexus, the solutions to energy and emissions issues offered by the fuel cell vehicle make it the closest technology yet to the ultimate eco-car, with hydrogen providing ‘an ideal, ultra-clean source of energy’.

Hydrogen fuel cell

A hydrogen fuel cell achieves about twice the energy efficiency available from current generation petrol and diesel engines – and emits only water, producing zero CO2, NOx and particulates.

As well as saving energy and driving down costs, it also offers the convenience of a long driving range from a tank of fuel and a fill-up process that takes only about as long as a conventionally powered vehicle.

A fuel cell powertrain also gives a quiet and smooth drive, with the bare minimum of noise and vibration, making it an ideal choice for the luxury car sector.

Lexus intends to build on this existing technology, adapting it to ensure it delivers the kind of performance it requires for a luxury flagship model.

Gesture control

The car has controls that can be operated using hand gestures, with no need to actually touch the contact panels. This next generation interface responds to natural movements to provide a more relaxing driving experience.

Images of the navigation, air conditioning, audio and other multimedia controls are projected into the air above the centre console. Sensors detect the driver’s movements, analyse the images and initiate the desired function or control operation.

Lexus LF-FC Concept interior

Longer range

The heart of the LF-FC Concept is a high-output hydrogen fuel cell power system. Its design is based on existing technologies, with upgrades to improve vehicle and driving performance. For example, the higher fuel efficiency secures a longer potential cruising range.

The system drives the rear wheels and also sends power to two front in-wheel motors to give the car all-wheel drive. This innovative approach allows for precise control of torque distribution between the front and rear wheels, gaining superior high-speed stability and exceptional handling performance.

The elements in the powertrain have been located to secure ideal weight distribution and perfectly balanced handling characteristics. The fuel cell stack is located at the rear of the vehicle, the power control unit at the front and the T-shaped hydrogen fuel tank down the spine and along the front line of the rear axle.

Safe and efficient

The LF-FC Concept uses automated technologies to provide a safe and efficient driving experience and support Lexus’s goal of achieving zero road traffic accident casualties.

It is equipped with the Mobility Teammate Concept, which defines an overall approach to automated driving. The system is similar to that used by the Highway Teammate Vehicle, with a stereo camera, five millimetre-wave radar units and six light detection and ranging sensors (LIDARs) to provide 360-degree monitoring of the car’s surroundings.

The system is designed to fully automate all the operations required for motorway driving, including traffic merging, lane keeping, speed adjustments, lane changing and overtaking. The intention is to ensure safety, reduce fatigue and reduce traffic congestion.

Lexus LF-FC Concept exterior

Click here to find out more about Lexus and its hybrid range.