Lexus LS Flagship Sedan to Get Fuel Cell Powertrain
According to the Motoring article, the 2016 Toyota Mirai fuel cell vehicle is just the tip of the iceberg. Reportedly, Toyota plans to use its fuel cell technology to expand its current range with additional powertrain options. One of the new vehicles with green powertrain would be the Lexus 600h L sedan. The hybrid luxury sedan will suffer some adjustments and changes in order to fit the fuel cell powertrain inside the body, but it can be done. Of course, the fuel cell Lexus won’t be released at the same time as the Mirai. They will wait for a while to establish a solid production ground first.
The Toyota first production fuel cell vehicle will be made in modest amount of units. Motoring says that they will release only 400 units at first. Four hundred vehicles in circulation isn’t an impressive number, but if it’s true that the automaker loses between $62,000 and $124,000 on each unit, like Green Car Reports suggested, the volume suddenly doesn’t seem so modest.
However, Toyota will certainly try to get some profit from its pioneering in fuel cell technology. The Lexus full-size sedan, which is already pretty expensive, might be the right guinea pig. It’s exclusive and elegant, already decently green and its price would probably cover the production cost.
But, the Toyota Mirai is a car which was purposefully developed for a fuel cell powertrain. How can a classic full-size sedan become an FCV? Well, it seems that they already know how to do it. While the front fascia will be, at least, slightly altered in order to get new bigger air intakes necessary for cooling the fuel cell powertrain, other changes will be more substantial. The fuel cell stack will be tucked under the front seat and the hydrogen tank will be placed beneath the rear seat. Yet another hydrogen tank will be nested behind the rear seat.
The future Lexus LS fuel cell sedan will, reportedly, come with a 220-kW electric motor and a 150-kW fuel cell stack. Having nearly 300 horsepower might be pretty fuel consuming, but the same report said that the green luxury sedan would have hydrogen tanks whose capacity will be enough for more than 200 miles of driving range.
The Lexus LS won’t be the only manufacturer’s vehicle that will come with fuel cell powertrain aside from the Mirai. They might introduce a number of other models – perhaps the Toyota Corolla and the Toyota Crown – but they might offer a fuel cell SUV, too.
Having in mind that the first examples of the 2016 Toyota Mirai are going to be released next fall in the U.S., don’t expect the new Lexus FCEV any time soon. It could be launched a couple of year after the Mirai release, but there’s no precise time frame.
However, it’s certain that the new Lexus LS fuel cell sedan won’t be cheap at all. The expectations are that it’s going to be the most expensive vehicle in the brand’s lineup. The current Lexus LS 600h L hybrid starts at $120,440.
Needless to say, they will probably make a small number of units. Although the higher price of the luxury sedan can compensate for some of the production costs, it probably won’t be able to cover it all. The Lexus LS fuel cell will be a halo car, but it still needs some buyers.
The Green Car Reports article disclosed Toyota’s expectations about Mirai sales. Reportedly, during 2015, they hope to sell 200 units, but they’re optimistic and through 2018, they expect that number to rise to 3,000.