Toyota and its Lexus luxury brand share underlying architectures, powertrain, and numerous other components across a number of their models.
That's why there have been several Lexus hybrid models over the last 10 years--including the brand's current flagship, the LS 600h L sedan.
So with the launch of the 2016 Mirai fuel-cell car, will Toyota try a similar strategy with hydrogen?
What if it turned that LS Hybrid flagship into a hydrogen-powered luxury sedan?
Lexus is plotting something along those lines, mulling a hydrogen LS that could launch sometime before 2017, according to a new report from Australia's Motoring.
The new model would likely be based on the next-generation LS, with some modifications to accommodate the fuel-cell powertrain.
The front fascia will get larger air intakes--perhaps similar to the ones on the Mirai--for better cooling of the fuel-cell stack, electric motor, and power electronics.
The fuel cell itself will be situated under the front seat, while hydrogen tanks will be located beneath the rear seat and between the seat and trunk--pretty much the same layout used on the Mirai, a mid-sized sedan.
With its retrofitted hydrogen powertrain, the fuel-cell LS will reportedly weigh approximately 2,100 kilograms (4,628 pounds)--a few hundred pounds less than the current LS hybrid.
The report says the LS will feature a "power unit" combining a 150-kilowatt fuel cell and 220-kW (295-horsepower) electric motor, with enough onboard hydrogen storage for 384 kilometers (about 238 miles) of driving.
When it arrives in showrooms, the LS fuel cell is expected to exceed the cost of the LS 600h L hybrid as the most expensive model in the LS lineup.
While the LS 600h L is currently positioned as the top model in part to make a statement about Lexus' commitment to hybrids--and its technological prowess--having the fuel-cell version above it may just be a matter of economics.
Hydrogen cars will likely be more expensive than their gasoline counterparts for the time being. The Mirai already carries a Lexus-like base price of $57,500 in the U.S.
Toyota also reportedly has plans for other fuel-cell vehicles beyond the Mirai, including a large SUV.
However, the company will first have to expand Mirai sales beyond the small numbers--in limited markets--that it anticipates at launch.
Toyota expects to deliver just 200 units of the fuel-cell sedan in the U.S. in 2015, and 3,000 by the end of 2017.