Lexus LF-ZC is a 500-mile Tesla Model 3 rival made of… bamboo?
Lexus has teased its upcoming electric saloon that could offer a 500-mile range and an interior made of bamboo
Yet another rival for the Tesla Model 3 is on the way, this time from Japan as the Lexus LF-ZC has been unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show, with the bamboo-lined concept car previewing an all-new model set to arrive by 2026.
The Lexus LF-ZC is set to act as a full-electric successor to the recently-discontinued Lexus IS hybrid saloon and, from what we can tell, will target the more driver-focused cars in a rapidly growing sector of the market, including the BMW i4 and Polestar 2.
Lexus says the production version of the LF-ZC will deliver “engaging and exhilarating dynamics”, aided by the same DIRECT4 dual-motor four-wheel-drive and steer-by-wire systems as the already-on-sale Lexus RZ SUV.
It won’t entirely feature pre-existing technology, however; the Lexus LF-ZC is also set to utilise parent company Toyota’s latest ‘Performance’ battery technology. More efficient, yet cheaper to produce than current battery applications, Toyota says its Performance unit – also set to enter production in 2026 – will offer a range of up to 500 miles.
The facelifted Tesla Model 3 and Volkswagen ID.7 are both already capable of over 400 miles on a charge, but this technology could make the Lexus LF-ZC one of the longest-range electric cars ever.
It’s unlikely the production Lexus LF-ZC will look quite as extreme as the concept car, although several design traits are likely to carry over. Buyers can expect the same sharp front-end design pioneered by the aforementioned RZ SUV, as well as plenty of creases in the bodywork and a sloping roofline to boost aerodynamic efficiency; the concept’s drag coefficient of under 0.2 CD would make it even slipperier than the Mercedes EQE.
As alluded to earlier, Lexus has chosen to feature bamboo heavily within the design of the LF-ZC’s interior. One of the fastest-growing plants in the world and a hefty absorber of CO2, bamboo has been woven into the seat fabrics of the LF-ZC, as well as the interior trim and door handles.
Sustainable materials aside, perhaps the biggest focal point of the Lexus LF-ZC concept's interior is its yoke-style steering wheel and a multitude of screens. We expect the concept car’s yoke to be swapped out for a revised version of the RZ’s when it hits production, while the interior as a whole will almost certainly be toned down a notch.
Whatever form the Lexus LF-ZC’s infotainment system takes, we know it’ll run Toyota’s upcoming Arene OS software. This is said to offer several personalisation options, as well as downloadable apps and over-the-air updates to bring all the latest features and improvements.
Set to arrive by 2026, the Lexus LF-ZC will be a latecomer to an already rather busy sector of the market, with cars like the Hyundai Ioniq 6 already on sale. Given Lexus’ luxury status, we expect the zero-emissions saloon to cost a chunk more than rivals, likely starting from around £60,000 when it eventually goes on sale in the UK.
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