Lexus, the Oriental premium brand car manufacturer, has unveiled the 2008 LS 600h L, their new hybrid luxury sedan.
A revolutionary venture for the Japanese luxury manufacturer, the new model is an attempt to reconcile the expectations of ostentatious luxury in the premium sedan market with environmental realities of early 21st century motoring.
Beyond the extensive restyling and host of interior feature updates, the key characteristice of the LS 600h L is the hybrid drivetain.
A 5-litre petrol V8 engine is augmented by two electric motors supplemented in turn by a large capacity battery pack.
This combination powers up to 326 kW of peak power, enough to blast the LS 600h L from 0-100 km/h in under six seconds via a dual-stage electronically controlled continuously variable transmission.
Transmitting power to the road is an all-wheel drive (AWD) system changing through a new transfer case that is ultra quiet, compact and equipped with a unique Torsen limited-slip differential (LSD) that is 30 percent lighter in size and weight than previous Torsen systems.
To maximize the AWD system's performance, the LSD features a rear biased torque distribution of 40:60 under normal straight-line driving.
The innovative V8 engine features an electric-motor driven Variable Valve Timing with intelligence and Electrically controlled intake cam (VVT-iE).
A newly developed Hydrocarbon Adsorber and Catalyst (HCAC) system is linked to the two-way exhaust to help prevent hydrocarbons contained in the exhaust from being released into the atmosphere during cold start up when the catalysts are not up to temperature.
The LS 600h L is defined as a "full hybrid," capable of operating in electric-only mode or with a combination of the gas engine and electric motor.
In contrast, other hybrid technologies require constant gas operation and are not capable of running only on electric power alone. Lexus hybrid technology allows electric-mode-only operation at low speeds or stop-and-go driving conditions, reducing fuel consumption and noise.
The hybrid system in the LS 600h L uses a 288-volt DC Nickel Metal Hydride (Ni-MH) compact battery pack installed behind the rear seat. The trunk also contains a 12-volt auxiliary battery that powers the audio, navigation, and other systems. Battery power is directed through a "boost converter" that efficiently raises voltage to a maximum 650V DC. An inverter changes this to AC, providing it elevated power to a 165-kW electric motor that turns at a rate of as much as 10,240 rpm.
Lexus engineers devised a higher output inverter that both increases output by 10 percent and makes it compact in size and weight for easy mounting in the engine compartment.
The LS 600h L is equipped with a power-steering system and air-conditioning compressor that are electrically powered to reduce parasitic losses to the engine, thereby helping improve fuel consumption.
Active safety features include the Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM) stability system, which assimilates and manages the Electronically Controlled Brake (ECB) system, EPS, Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Antilock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) and engine torque via the electronically controlled throttle.
The interior is opulent and extensively equipped, as befits a vehicle cometing at the top of the premium sedan market. LS 600h L also features a standard 19-speaker 450-watt Mark Levinson Reference Surround Sound audio system.
A list of optional conveniences includes an Advanced Parking Guidance System (APGS) to assist with parallel and back-in parking. Once the driver has correctly positioned the car and identified the desired parking spot via the navigation screen, APGS utilizes the rear back-up camera parking sonar sensors and electric power steering system to guide the car into the spot, while the driver controls speed via braking.
The LS 600h L is expected to go on sale in the United States this winter.