Lexus last week officially presented its first battery electric car, the UX 300e, at the Guangzhou International Automobile Exhibition in China. Here’s what we know about this new EV so far.
On the outside, it is virtually indistinguishable from its gas-powered cousin, the Lexus UX, a compact SUV the company claims is “Crafted For The Modern Frontier.” Just exactly what frontier it has in mind with that marketing slogan is not entirely clear. The UX is also available in a hybrid version.
In the UX 300e, the gasoline engine and powertrain have been ditched in favor of a 201 horsepower motor driving the front wheels, and a 54.3 kWh battery. The company claims the new car has a range of 400 kilometers | 248 miles in the NEDC testing cycle. Why any ethical company would continue to quote range numbers using that discredited protocol is a mystery unless the purpose is to deliberately confuse consumers.
No EPA estimate has been provided and with good reason. Lexus has no active intention of bringing the UX 300e to America. The first cars will be offered to Chinese customers starting next year, with sales in the UK and Europe slated for 2021, according to Engadget. If Lexus ever brings an EV to the US, it may or may not be the UX 300e, which would likely struggle to break 200 miles of range in EPA testing.
In a statement, the company said, “Lexus has always focused on providing a distinctive driving performance, and the case is no different with development of a BEV. Starting from the refined Lexus driving signature of the UX, Lexus engineers were able to leverage the new electric drivetrain to even further enhance the vehicle’s on-road performance. At the same time, UX 300e has one of the quietest cabins in its class, as befits the sound management heritage of the Lexus DNA.”
Until this point, Lexus and Toyota have been actively hostile to the idea of battery electric cars, preferring to focus on fuel cell vehicles and hybrids, which it refers to in deliberately misleading terms as self charging electric cars that are miraculously “always charged.”
By the time the UX 300e gets to American shores, it will be hopelessly outdated. According to Green Car Reports, it will have a 6.6 kw on-board AC charger and a maximum DC charging capability of 50 kw. It is unlikely anyone will want to shell out Lexus prices for a car that can only go 200 miles on a good day.
Elon Musk has been imploring other manufacturers to build compelling electric cars. The UX 300e will hardly be on e of those. In fact, the car is so woefully uncompetitive, it begs the question whether the company will do any serious marketing for the car or if it is in the model lineup simply so Toyota can deflect criticism about its lack of a credible pathway to the electric car future.