Small Batteries, Big Ideas: The Toyota and Lexus Electric Revolution
Toyota, a company renowned for its forward-thinking innovations, is once again making waves at the Japan Mobility Show by introducing a pair of all-electric concept vehicles that defy convention. The Toyota FT-Se, a striking battery-powered sports car, and the FT-3e, an equally impressive battery-powered crossover, are not just cars; they are glimpses into a future where imagination knows no bounds.
For a company that was once skeptical about the future of all-electric vehicles, these concepts mark a significant shift in Toyota’s approach. While the maker did not believe in the superiority of all-electric vehicles until recently, the FT-Se and FT-3e now signal that electric cars may become a tangible reality sooner than we think.
At the heart of these electric dreams lies a cutting-edge next-generation platform, a versatile canvas upon which the future of automotive design is being painted. The powertrains and capacities of these concepts remain under wraps, as the true innovation here lies in their use of smaller and denser “prismatic” lithium-ion batteries. These compact energy sources are a harbinger of what’s to come, with dimensions that are about 70 percent of today’s batteries, promising more possibilities and greater design flexibility.
Hiroki Nakajima, chief technology officer of Toyota Motor Corp., emphasizes the question: “How can we minimize the size of each component (of a vehicle) as much as possible?” With the downsizing of technology, a realm of new possibilities emerges, leading to the creation of vehicles that challenge conventional norms.
The prismatic batteries’ diminutive size allows for more creative freedom in design, breaking free from the shackles of large components such as engines, driveshafts, and even current-generation batteries. As these design limitations are shattered, imaginations run wild, ushering in a new era of automotive innovation.
However, these smaller batteries are just the beginning of the electric evolution. Toyota aims to introduce solid-state batteries by 2028, which will further reduce size and increase energy density. This choice will empower engineers to tailor vehicles for more power, extended range, or a blend of both, all driven by individual preferences.
Lexus, Toyota’s premium brand, is equally committed to electrification. The LF-ZL, an aspirational sedan, sets an electrifying vision of what’s possible when passenger-centric designs lead the way. While the LF-ZL is expected to remain a concept, it provides a glimpse into the spacious and comfortable future that awaits passengers.
In contrast, the LF-ZC is a clear indicator of what’s to come. This concept heralds an all-electric SUV set to hit production lines in 2026, aligning with Lexus’s vision to become an all-electric brand by 2035. Toyota, on the other hand, remains committed to hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and hydrogen-powered commercial vehicles, showing its dedication to an environmentally sustainable future.
Adding to the allure of these groundbreaking vehicles is Toyota’s new proprietary “Arene” software. This software transforms the cars into highly customizable and deeply personal experiences. It allows drivers to program their vehicles to respond exactly as desired, mimicking the characteristics of a beloved classic like the Celica or perhaps the nostalgia-inducing Honda S2000. It can even replicate the handling of a virtual car from a favorite video game. Arene promises to make your vehicle a true reflection of your unique preferences.
While Toyota remains convinced that purely electric cars may not be the ultimate solution for environmental benefits, they are now committed to making EVs exhilarating to drive. These concept vehicles unveiled in Tokyo are a testament to their dedication to creating a harmonious future that balances the thrill of driving with eco-conscious design.
In this evolving automotive landscape, Toyota and Lexus are rewriting the rules and electrifying our imagination. The future of driving promises to be more exciting, sustainable, and personalized than ever before, and these visionary concepts are leading the charge.