Lexus LF-FC Fuel Cell Vehicle to go on Sale by 2020

Thursday 18 February 2016

By James Mosley

Lexus has confirmed that the LF-FC hydrogen fuel cell vehicle concept, that it unveiled back at the Tokyo motor show, will go into production.

Officials from the company confirmed that Akio Toyoda, the Lexus and Toyota President and CEO, wants the new vehicle available to purchase by the end of this decade.

The concept was was supposed to “offer a peek into the design and technology direction of the brand’s future flagship sedan” but it appears Lexus are keen to move forward with his model more quickly than many anticipated. The company is of course looking to become a pioneer in the hydrogen fuel cell vehicle sector, in the same way the company currently dominates with hybrid technology.

Lexus and Toyota are clearly betting big when it comes to hydrogen fuel cell technology. The company already has a production hydrogen fuel cell vehicle of course with the Toyota Mirai, though the Lexus LF-FC will clearly be aimed at a completely different market and will not be in direct competition.

LF-FC Interior

The company has a good reason to invest in the technology too. While it’s very much still in its early days, Lexus believes that the technology offered in these vehicles makes them the closest thing yet to the ultimate eco car.

Hydrogen fuel cells are incredibly efficient, actually around twice as efficient as the latest petrol and diesel engines, yet the only thing emitted by these vehicles is water vapour, so no CO2 and certainly no nasty NOx particulates. The other key point to remember is that these vehicles allow you to fill up in a similar amount of time to a conventional petrol or diesel vehicle, meaning a driving range that far exceeds even the best electric vehicles.

The hydrogen fuel cell stack will be placed at the rear of the car, powering the rear wheels, but also sending power to in wheel electric motors at the front giving the car all wheel drive. This allows the car to precisely distribute torque between all four wheels giving the car “exceptional dynamic handling and superior road stability”.

With the fuel cell stack at the rear, the power control unit to the front of the vehicle and a ‘T’ shaped hydrogen tank, the car is said to have optimal weight distribution for a sports saloon. The car is said to also use two driving modes, similar to a current hybrid vehicle. When the vehicle is “cruising”, the fuel cell stack with drive the motor and drive the batteries while when harder acceleration is required the car will use both the batteries and the hydrogen fuel cell stack to give the car maximum power.

The production ready LF-FC could well be a replacement for the current flagship Lexus LS saloon to compete with the best the Germans have to offer such as the Mercedes S Class and BMW 7 series. Lexus are expecting the LF-FC to sell in the hundreds rather than the tens of thousands so it seems likely that a conventionally powered flagship saloon may also be offered alongside the hydrogen powered vehicle.

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