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.
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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?
2015 Lexus LS 600h L
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.
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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.
2015 Lexus LS 600h L
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.
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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.