Concept Car

Lexus LF-Z Electrified concept car gives a peek at brand's future

The car incorporates modern and future Lexus design.

Photo courtesy of Lexus

Lexus is putting the pedal down. The company is working to accelerate the production of new models as its moves to diversify its lineup. Currently the brand offers five sedans, eight SUVs, and five coupes, with slightly less than half of those being hybrid variations of other vehicles on the roster.

By 2025, the luxury arm of Toyota will introduce 20 new or improved models, including more than 10 electrified models including battery electric vehicles (BEVs), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), and other electric vehicles. The company is also is committed to making sportier versions of their more traditional vehicles.

Lexus aims to be a carbon neutral company throughout the lifecycle of its entire model lineup by 2050. To help achieve that goal, in March 2024 Lexus will open a new business and technical center that will allow various Lexus teams to more cohesively work together.

Lexus LF-Z Electrified: Exterior

Photo courtesy of Lexus

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The LF-Z Electrified concept car is a conceptual BEV that puts driving performance, styling, and technology today in one concept car package. The exterior of the mode furthers the Lexus design story, carrying with it many hallmarks of today's vehicle design while infusing new elements. Lines are clean, simple, and directional, drawing the eye forward and back toward simplified design at the face and rear.

It is driven via all four wheels, a technology called Direct4. Lexus says that the system has many advantages, "By controlling the front and rear drive wheels independently, the system can provide the appropriate drive system ...for each driving situation. The system controls the distribution of driving force through the seamless orchestration and calculation of accelerator pedal application and steering wheel operation, resulting in powerful acceleration and exhilarating cornering performance that aligns near-perfectly to the driver's will."

Engineers have given the car the "Lexus Driving Signature", a connected drive experience that made its debut in the refreshed 2021 Lexus IS. This new model is said to raise that driving style to new heights by "evolving the basic performance of the vehicle".

Lexus LF-Z Electrified: Interior

Photo courtesy of Lexus

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The BEV hides its battery longitudinally under the floor of the vehicle, attaching it to the chassis and adding rigidity. This, in addition to other design attributes is said to help mitigate vibrations and noises that tens to permeate the cabin.

Lexus designers have created the cockpit with open and minimalist design. Engineers have given the car futuristic tech that interacts with the driver by learning their behavioral traits and patterns. When it does that, the car's infotainment system will be able to offer proposed routes and other lifestyle choices. Mercedes-Benz's infotainment technology already does this.

A panoramic glass roof and simple, molded forms emphasize the car's connection with its environment, according to the automaker. Look closely at it all. Lexus says the design shown here suggests the direction of next-gen Lexus interior styling.

This concept includes numerous technologies already applied in luxury and mass market vehicles, including digital key, which allows phone-as-key technology and makes delivering packages to a vehicle easier. An E-Latch system extends and retracts door handles depending on when they are needed.

Reclining and massaging seats, a next-generation Mark Levinson audio system, and other features complete the Lexus concept car package.

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Discontinued sedan

Volkswagen nixing Passat after 2022 model year

Racing Green Metallic is one of four exclusive colors for the car.

Volkswagen

After five decades on sale in the U.S., Volkswagen is pulling the plug on the midsize Passat. The explosion of SUVs' popularity and the need to shift production power to electric vehicles are behind the decision, which will take place after the 2022 model year. The cars have been built at the automaker's Chattanooga, TN plant since 2011, but the facility is being repurposed as VW's North American hub for electric vehicle assembly.

Volkswagen is giving the car one last hurrah, however, in the form of the Passat Limited Edition. The car features 18-inch wheels, LED headlights with an Advanced Front Lighting System, and an easy-open trunk. Inside, the cars come with sport seats wrapped in Vienna leather, memory seating, a Fender Premium Audio System, parking assistance, and parking sensors.


2022 Volkswagen Passat Limited Edition Each car gets a special model tag with its limited production number.Volkswagen


Only 1,973 of the cars will be built, and it will only be sold in four colors, each with its own limited production numbers that have special meaning for the Passat:

  • Aurora Red Metallic with Titan Black interior: 411 units to represent the original vehicle production code
  • Racing Green Metallic with Mauro Brown interior: 423 units to commemorate the Chattanooga 423 area code
  • Pure white with Mauro Brown interior: 524 units to signify the Chattanooga plant's May 24 opening date
  • Platinum Great Metallic with Titan Black interior: 615 units to signify six generations of imported Passats, one generation assembled in Chattanooga, and five decades of U.S. sales

Pricing for the 2022 Passat starts at $31,290, which includes a $995 destination fee. Adding Aurora Red Metallic drives the price up by an additional $395. Each car will receive a special number plate to designate its place in the limited production run.


2022 Volkswagen Passat Limited Edition The Passat Limited Edition gets several upscale features. Volkswagen

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Electric vehicle features

The VW ID.4 sounds futuristic

The ID.4 is VW's first electric crossover in the U.S.

VW

The Volkswagen ID.4 is finally here. The electric crossover offers compelling features, decent all-electric range, and a reasonable price. On top of all that, Volkswagen focused heavily on the electric experience with the ID.4, down to the sounds it makes in everyday operation.

Where many automakers seek to humanize electric vehicles with familiar gas engine sounds, Volkswagen hasn't bothered with any of that. Instead, the automaker's ID.4 electric crossover features several sounds that embrace the EV's place in the future of transportation.

On startup, drivers are greeted with a sound that Volkswagen says will alert them that the vehicle is ready to go. It's not at all unlike the flying saucer sounds heard in sci-fi movies decades ago, but it's a nice reminder of the ID.4's future-forward drivetrain.



In motion, VW gave the ID.4 what is known as an Acoustic Vehicle Alerting System, which helps alert people to the presence of a moving electric vehicle. Since the drivetrain doesn't make the same noises that a gas engine does, EVs can move almost silently at low speeds, so it's important to have some kind of warning sound.

Even the turn signal sounds received scrutiny in the ID.4's design, and while they're still fairly traditional, the sounds are subtle and pleasing overall. Beyond that, VW says it developed a library of sounds for typical vehicle control buttons and other functions that are exclusive to its electric vehicles. The goal, according to the automaker, is that the sound aligns with the vehicles' character, visual design, and features, and that people will be able to recognize a VW EV by its unique sound.

The ID.4 is just the first of several EVs that Volkswagen plans to release here in the United States. Larger family vehicles are on the horizon, and we may even see an electric revival of the legendary VW bus.

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