Are All BEVs Cut from the Same Cloth?


Lexus's flagship MPV model, the LM, made its world premiere in Shanghai. The accompanying speeches touched on the essence of Lexus.

This year’s Auto Shanghai motor show spanned 10 days from April 18. With every manufacturer bringing their latest battery electric vehicle (BEV) models, the Chinese market’s rapid shift to electric and smart technologies was prominently on display.

For Lexus, Auto Shanghai served as the stage for the world premiere of its flagship MPV model, the LM.

At the event, the conversation also turned to the spirit of Lexus carmaking.

The spirit of Lexus passed down through generations

Lexus’s press conference kicked off with the following remarks by Li Hui, Executive Vice President (EVP) of Toyota Motor (China) Investment Co., Ltd. (TMCI).

EVP Li Hui

In rapidly changing times, generations of Lexus’s craftspeople have remained dedicated to creating a sense of “comforting luxury.”

I’m sure you have all seen images of Chairman Akio Toyoda in his racing suit, working directly with the development teams to test and improve our cars.

We do all this to provide ever-better cars to the people who love them.

To talk about Lexus’s spirit of monozukuri, there is one important person that I would like to introduce.

He was involved in every aspect of developing Lexus’s flagship luxury coupe, the LC, as a key development team member led by current president Koji Sato, the model’s chief engineer at the time.

Later, as CE, he oversaw the development of Lexus’s battery EV models, including the UX300e and RZ, and helped to propel the company’s electrification strategy. Then in March this year, he became President of Lexus International.

Today, it gives me great pleasure to be joined here by Mr. Takashi Watanabe, the new President of Lexus International.

This year’s Auto Shanghai is Mr. Watanabe’s first international motor show since taking the helm at Lexus. President Watanabe, please join us!

At Li’s invitation, Lexus International President Takashi Watanabe took the stage to speak about the brand’s approach to carmaking.

Creating cars that make people smile

President Watanabe

I’m Takashi Watanabe of Lexus International. When I began working on the RZ as chief engineer, we were concerned that, in shifting to BEVs, all cars would come to resemble each other.

Against this backdrop, we constantly asked ourselves, “What is it that makes a car drive like a Lexus?”

We pursued development with the desire to bring smiles to our customers’ faces by further advancing Lexus’s unique designs and driving experience through electrification technologies.

I still remember the smile on Akio Toyoda’s face when, as master driver, he tested the RZ we had worked so hard to develop, and told us, “Now this is a Lexus.”

When Akio offered me the job of president at Lexus, he told me simply to “create cars that make people smile.”

In carrying on the quality carmaking tradition established by Akio and Sato, I want to further enhance Lexus’s unique driving feel and design through electrification technology. Even with BEVs, I hope to create cars that make people feel “Ah, this is a Lexus” the moment they see or drive one. That is the kind of carmaking I want to pursue.

The Lexus Electrified Sport Concept you see here today is a symbol of this vision, while the RZ450e serves as the first concrete step toward making that future a reality.

From left: Lexus Electrified Sport Concept, RZ Sport Concept, RZ Outdoor Concept, RZ450e.

Even in an era of full-scale, widespread BEV adoption, I’m sure that many customers will seek cars that have a sporty feel, for example, or can serve as a companion for outdoor activities.

At Lexus, we want to continue offering cherished vehicles that enrich the diverse lifestyles of our customers, without turning cars into a commodity.

These two customized RZ concepts embody our ambition.