Lexus is planning a dual-motor all-wheel-drive system for future hybrids and electric cars.
Called DIRECT4, the system includes an electric motor and transaxle for both the front and rear axles, Lexus said in a press release. Taking advantage of the instant response and infinite adjustability of electric motors, the system will directly manipulate motor output to change a vehicle's driving dynamics, the automaker explained.
In a way, the system is an evolution of the all-wheel-drive setup used in current Lexus hybrids (and those of parent Toyota), where an electric motor is used to power the rear wheels without any mechanical connection to the front wheels or gasoline engine.
An accompanying video showed development mules with a prototype version of the DIRECT4 hybrid system. Lexus quoted output of 107 horsepower for the front and rear motors, with 243 pound-feet of torque for the front motor, and 177 lb-ft for the rear motor. As shown in the video, the system defaults to front-wheel drive, but is also capable of 50/50 and 20/80 front/rear torque splits.
Lexus also showed a prototype all-electric version of DIRECT4, with front and rear motors producing an identical 201 hp and 221 lb-ft of torque.
Lexus DIRECT4 all-wheel drive system e-axle
The video includes animated clips of the Lexus LF-30 concept unveiled last year, as well as brief glimpses of a second concept Lexus said will be unveiled in the first quarter of 2021.
Lexus has said that it sees electric vehicles as the future, and it already has several models in the works for its global lineup.
But that doesn't mean the luxury brand is giving up on hybrids, which Lexus said make up 96% of its sales in Western Europe. The automaker still views hybrids as important for regions with inadequate charging infrastructure, Takashi Watanabe, Lexus electrified chief engineer, said in the video.
Lexus didn't say what batteries would be used with its future DIRECT4 hybrids and EVs, but it's likely they might also get the solid-state technology that Lexus parent Toyota has recently suggested might come sooner than 2025.
It's possible that Lexus might also—for some markets—get a version of the electric SUV being jointly developed between Toyota and Subaru.