Lexus LF-FC concept previews next LS

Tokyo auto show: Lexus LF-FC concept previews next LS

Lexus pulled back the curtain on its next-generation LS sedan at Wednesday’s Tokyo Motor Show with the debut of the LF-FC concept.

The full-size sedan design study offers a close preview of what the fifth-generation LS will look like when it debuts sometime in 2016 or 2017. The concept uses a hydrogen fuel cell powertrain to move the rear wheels, as well as an electric motor for each of the front wheels.

“Lexus wants to surprise and evoke emotion with its distinctive design and forward-thinking technology,” Tokuo Fukuichi, Lexus International president, said in a statement released at the unveiling. “The LF-FC expresses our progressive luxury and high-tech vision of a not-so-distant future.”

Details on the concept’s powertrain were slim. It uses a hydrogen fuel cell stack at the rear of the vehicle, while the power control unit — that is, the car’s brain — is mounted up front. The hydrogen fuel cell tanks are mounted in a T configuration down the center of the car.

There was no mention of any gasoline engine possibilities, even though it’s expected that the new LS will have a conventional gasoline engine as its primary powerplant.

The LF-FC is nearly four inches longer, four inches wider and two inches lower than the current LS 460L sedan. The growth also makes the concept longer than the current segment leader: Mercedes-Benz’s venerable S class.

The Lexus concept also integrates gesture controls, something BMW introduced in its 7 series full-size sedan earlier this year.

The current generation LS is overdue for a reboot, having been on the market since the 2007 model year. With age, its popularity has dwindled. U.S. sales are down 11 percent through September vs. the year-earlier period. The Mercedes S class is outselling the Lexus by a 3-to-1 margin.

The LF-FC concept comes as Lexus is celebrating the 25th anniversary of its first LS, a car that turned the German automaker-dominated segment on its head when it debuted.

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