Smart a-Lex : Lexus LF-30 Electrified Concept with Ian Cartabiano

By davidkhoo, 03 November 2019

Tokyo, Japan – Lexus President, Yoshihiro Sawa, got so tired of being asked about the brand’s electrification programme, he finally built a Lexus EV (or Electric Vehicle) – the LF-30 Electrified Concept (the ‘30’ references Lexus’ 30 years of existence).

(When we hear 'LF' we still think 'LFA'... click HERE to read about one of the best sportscars we've ever driven)

This even in the face of the fact that as a group, Toyota has met stringent CAFE 2021 fleet CO2 requirements on the back of hybrid petrol-electric vehicle sales alone.

“EVs are not the only solution – hybrids are a broader solution, and we’ve already reduced a huge amount of emissions. So far, EVs’ contribution to CO2 reduction is smaller than our hybrid solution. For instance, we are selling our vehicles in more than 90 countries. However, only a few countries or cities are ready for EVs, but for the rest of the world, a hybrid or plug-in hybrid electric vehicle is the better solution,” says Sawa-san (pictured).

We’re enjoying front row seats at the unveiling of the Lexus LF-30 during the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show, and the atmosphere is abuzz with anticipation, not least because it is the brand’s first electric vehicle. If you’re looking for the traditional Lexus ‘spindle’ grille, wonder no more because the spindle has become the core of the entire car.


“We move from a traditional spindle grille, and we actually made the spindle the core architecture for the vehicle. It actually becomes the entire essence of the vehicle flowing from the front, through the car all the way to the rear. And also bringing outside to the in and seeing the inside out,” explains Mr. Ian Cartabiano, Head of the Lexus ED2 design studio, as he walks us through the LF-30.

Exquisitely crafted vehicle module 'key' stores your configurations and 'connects' you to the LF-30
Exquisitely crafted vehicle module 'key' stores your configurations and 'connects' you to the LF-30

According to Mr. Cartabiano, in creating the LF-30, the design team started-off with “a clean sheet of paper and a licence to dream, with just three keywords to guide their efforts: Brave, Artistic and Futuristic.”


The powerful, futuristic creation “takes advantage of the possibility and potential of an electrified platform to create an entirely new type of vehicle – the future of performance luxury vehicles that shows what the next 30 years holds for Lexus.”


Ian explains, “We really tried to change the surface language of this car – we call ours ‘transitional contrast’. The LF-30’s surface language flows from fluid in the front, and as it moves towards the rear of the car, it becomes very sharp, very edgy. It was inspired by something being shaped by the elements of nature.” No wonder it looks fast even when standing still then!

The LF-30’s dynamic, wedged shape is reminiscent of performance cars. “To show power, we are showing how power comes from the wheels. So from all four wheels, the power flows into the body, and it creates an authentic, agile, powerful stance.”


What’s Ian’s favourite part of the car? “It has to be the front corner, because it's fresh and beautiful and looks like a Lexus without looking like a Lexus – I think that's a hard thing to do, but I think the team succeeded.”

The cockpit and driving position are designed around the concept of ‘Tazuna’, which is inspired by the intimate connection between horse and rider (or car and driver) through a single contact point – in this case, the steering wheel. “The meter display flows through and connects the road to the driver and the driver back to the road, which is really cool,” Ian explains.


Thanks to the advanced UX research conducted at the TRI-AD think-tank, a joint venture between Toyota, Aisin and Denso, the steering controller-mounted switches and head-up display have been coordinated to allow the driver to focus on driving and the occupants to control the various functions through gesture and voice control, as well as augmented reality.


Ian tells us, “There are a lot of new concepts on the LF-30, and they point towards the future of luxury for the Lexus brand. We're a future facing brand and not so much about the past, and I really think this car conveys what the future of luxury can be by utilising the best of electrified technology.”


PHOTOS Lexus / David Khoo

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