Lexus flagship fuel-cell car
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Tokyo show: Fuel-cell power for Lexus flagship

  • Fuel-cell power with all-wheel drive
  • Advanced automatic driving technology
  • L-Finesse design philosophy
  • Holographic gesture-control interface
Lexus flagship fuel-cell car
BIG WHEELS ROLLING: What will almost certainly be the next Lexus flagship, the LF-FC  fuel-cell car, runs on 21″ wheels and is in pride of place on the brand’s stand at the 2015 Tokyo auto show. Image: Lexus / Motorpress

Meet the future flagship sedan from Lexus – global partner to Toyota – just unveiled at the 2015 Toyota auto show. It’s called the LF-FC and is not only stylishly stunnng but also has a drive system that’s still rare on even the most modern and expensive automobiles.

FC stands for Fuel Cell, a system of generating electricity invented by one William Robert Grove nearly 180 years ago and 40 years after Alessandro Volto invented the voltaic cell which, today, we call a battery.

A fuel cell basically combines hydrogen – the most plentiful gas in the universe – from a high-pressure fuel tank with atmospheric oxygen in a reaction that simultaneously generates electricity, which in turn can drive an electric motor.

The only “pollutant” expelled is something mankind is running short of – water.

Lexus flagship fuel-cell car
THERE’LL BE NO MISSING THIS CAR: Lexus’ LF-FC has perhaps the most distinctive tail-lights in the automotive galaxy. Image: Lexus / Motorpress

While the fuel cell was created nearly two centuries ago it was only in the 1960’s that the American space programme made them safe enough to use as power generators in orbiting satellites. By the 1990’s they were being used in Earth-bound industries but it was only in 2008 that automaker Honda put one in a car, the FCX Clarity.

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Now Lexus intends to use the technology in its upcoming flagship FC sedan, a big car more than five metres long and two metres wide whose fuel-cell stack will not only drive the rear wheels but also a motor inside each front wheel – perhaps the most advance drive system on Earth.

The power-producing fuel-cell stack is mounted at the rear of the vehicle, the power control unit at the front, T-shaped hydrogen tanks front and rear for handling balance.

Lexus flagship fuel-cell car
ON THE NOSE: The car’s grille is also utterly original. Image: Lexus / Motorpress

“The LF-FC,” Lexus says, “also has a new styling theme that embodies Lexus’ “L-finesse” design philosophy. It includes an evolved version of Lexus’ signature grille with a new mesh design and floating “L-shaped” daytime running lights which extrude from the front fenders.

“The rear has striking new tail-lights that adopt the same floating theme as those at the front; the roof has the styling of a four-door coupe.”

The car rides on 21” aluminium wheels with carbon fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP) covers. The cabin, Lexus adds, “is a comfortable yet futuristic environment that provides the driver with a highly functional cockpit”. The front seats appear to be floating; the rear can recline but have “ample head and knee space”.

High-quality leather covers the seats, doors and facia and hand gestures by the driver can control a number of controls – another new technology gradually being adopted by a number of automakers.

Lexus flagship fuel-cell car
HYDROGEN POWER: The Lexus LF-FC is utterly clean when running – hydrogen fuel-cell, water exhaust. Image: Lexus / Motorpress

A small holographic image on the centre console indicates where the system can interpret hand gestures to control the audio system and ventilation.

The LF-FC also, Lexus says, has advanced automatic driving technology, including traffic environment recognition, prediction and judgment to provide safe and efficient travel – another concept whose benefits are being adopted by upmarket automakers to reduce the number of road collisions.

Lexus International president Tokuo Fukuichi said at the auto show that the LF-FC concept went well beyond conventional thinking to showcase visionary design and technology. He said:

“Lexus wants to surprise and evoke emotion with its distinctive design and forward-thinking technology. For us, it is more than just a car, beyond conventional imagination. The LF-FC expresses our progressive luxury and high-tech vision of a not-so-distant future.”

Lexus flagship fuel-cell car
 HOLOGRAPHIC CONTROLS: See the little ball floating over the front end of the central armrest? It’s a holograph to detect hand gestures from the driver. Image: Lexus / Motorpress

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