The RZ 450e is the first Lexus model to be designed as a BEV from the start. Lexus says, “The intent is not simply to deliver zero-emission, all-electric driving, but to reinvent the BEV driving experience.”
To achieve this, the car underwent extensive track testing and refinement at the Shimoyama Center in Japan, a location that will soon be Lexus’ new global headquarters.
The RZ is not a vehicle that simply uses battery electric power instead of a conventional motor; It adapts exciting new technologies to improve performance and driving pleasure.
“The RZ was developed with the goal of creating a unique Lexus BEV that feels safe to drive, feels comfortable and is exciting to drive,” says Chief Engineer Takashi Watanabe. “Our vision is to use electrification technology as a means to improve fundamental vehicle performance so that we can continue driving fun for all future generations.”
Lexus provided the following information about the RZ:
First and foremost, the RZ retains all of the finer qualities of performance and craftsmanship associated with the brand. The company has leveraged its experience in vehicle electrification to offer the benefits of a BEV with the essential refinement and unique driving experience of its brand.
The RZ also marks the first application of Lexus’ new e-axles – compact motor units used front and rear that work in conjunction with the new DIRECT4 all-wheel drive electronic torque control system. Quality handling, excellent body rigidity, a low center of gravity and long wheelbase and responsiveness are guaranteed in this dedicated new electric vehicle platform. A powerful lithium-ion battery is fully integrated into the chassis.
The platform and the battery-electric powertrain open up new design freedoms. The exterior reinterprets the signature Lexus spindle shape in the vehicle body, while the interior is a light and open space that is both simple and luxurious, expressing Lexus Omotenashi hospitality and Takumi craftsmanship.
With its emission-free performance, the RZ will support Lexus on its way to CO2 neutrality and a sustainable mobility society. The focus is not only on the vehicle’s performance on the road; but to look at the entire life cycle, from parts procurement through manufacture and ownership to eventual disposal. New methods to reduce emissions have already been introduced at Lexus’ Motomachi factory, the RZ production center. Beyond its launch, the RZ will offer an enhanced driving experience with an optional by-wire steering system. Lexus’ new One Motion Grip, currently in development, will provide easier and even more precise steering without compromising feedback from the road surface.
Built on an all-new battery-electric platform, it opens up new design possibilities and the freedom to create a look that sets the RZ 450e apart from other vehicles. At the same time, its styling is an evolution of the Lexus “Next Chapter” design and incorporates themes seen in other new Lexus models such as the RX. The basic theme was a seamless, emotional design inspired by driving a BEV. The RZ is instantly recognizable as both a Lexus and a BEV, with proportions that reflect its dynamic character.
The RZ is 4,805mm long with a 2,850mm wheelbase and short overhangs – 995mm front, 960mm rear. The overall height is 1,635 mm and the width is 1,895 mm (without exterior mirrors). In terms of exterior dimensions and footprint, the model falls between Lexus’ mid-size NX and large RX crossover models.
The redesigned headlamp assemblies are unified with the spindle body that emphasizes the Lexus L-motif daytime running lights, while the main headlight bulbs and turn signals are less prominent. The rear presents a cool, high-tech look with a split roof spoiler that enhances the rear flow of the design and contributes to the vehicle’s stable performance. The elongated LED light bar running the full width of the vehicle has become a hallmark of Lexus design.
Securing the Lexus Driving Signature has been the primary goal in developing the RZ’s dynamic performance and reinforcing the vehicle’s core characteristics of the ‘three Cs’ – confidence, control and comfort in all driving situations. In addition, the advantages of the BEV-specific properties such as fast response and high precision have been maximized. Lexus has ensured that the vehicle always responds the way the driver intends, making driving both comfortable and exciting, even for those not used to driving a BEV. The result is the addition of a BEV dimension to the Lexus Driving Signature – the refined, linear and reassuring response and rewarding sense of control and connection with the vehicle that define the driving character of new Lexus vehicles.
Efficient and compact electric e-axle
The RZ is the first production model to feature Lexus’ new e-axle, which was developed for use in BEVs. This is a compact, modular package consisting of an engine, transmission and a PCU (Power Control Unit) located between the driven wheels. The RZ uses both front and rear e-axles that work in conjunction with the DIRECT4 all-wheel drive control system to adjust the vehicle’s posture, traction and power distribution according to driving conditions.
The front motor has an output of 150 kW and the rear one 80 kW, which together results in a maximum output of 230 kW. The RZ achieves excellent energy efficiency with a consumption of 16.8 kWh or 18.7 kWh per 100 km in the combined WLTP cycle (Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicle Test Procedure), depending on wheel size and vehicle specification. Their compact dimensions – short front e-axle and low rear e-axle – add to the car’s packaging and help to gain more cabin space and a low load floor.
Battery electric powertrain
Lexus has developed a compact high-voltage system circuit that includes a transmission and an inverter in the e-axle units. An Energy Storage Unit (ESU) integrates the charging, power supply and power distribution functions. Noise filters have been added to the circuit to improve electromagnetic compatibility; This will help prevent interference with the vehicle’s audio system.
lithium ion battery
The battery pack is positioned entirely under the cab floor and forms a structural part of the vehicle frame. This contributes to the vehicle’s rigidity and its low center of gravity, while the unit’s slim profile also means that interior space or cargo space is not compromised. The battery is contained in a sealed, reinforced structure to protect it in the event of contact with the road surface or a collision. The unit consists of 96 cells with a gross capacity of 71.4 kWh. Quality, durability and reliability are reflected in Lexus, guaranteeing that the battery will retain at least 70% of its capacity after 10 years.
However, Lexus, based on its long experience in battery technologies, is confident that the actual capacity should be at least 90% at this point. Most RZ variants on 20-inch wheels achieve a range of around 395 km in the WLTP combi-cycle test. With 18-inch wheels, the range increases by around 40 km. These ranges apply to performance from when the battery is fully charged to when it is completely depleted.
The Lexus RZ will go on sale in South Africa in 2024. The exact schedule will be confirmed later in the year.
Globally and by 2030, the brand plans to achieve a full range of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) in all categories and aims to sell 100% BEVs worldwide by 2035 to help achieve a zero-carbon society.