Long refractory to 100% electric propulsion – despite two generations of "Rav4 Electric" marketed confidentially in the United States – the Toyota group eventually converted. And more quickly than expected, since, if the Japanese giant had already announced that it was preparing future electric models, it seemed until now want to wait for a new generation of battery – so-called solid electrolyte – to benefit from a technical advantage on his rivals. However, as Toyota admits, these new batteries will not be marketable for three to five years, too late to meet the CO2 emission reduction targets imposed by Europe or China. That's why Lexus, Toyota's luxury brand, will launch in both markets and by 2020 a 100% electric version of its recent UX compact SUV.
400 km of autonomy … on NEDC cycle
Called 300th, it remains very close to the hybrid UX already marketed, which implies that it was not developed on the future platform of the group dedicated to the electric propulsion "e-TNGA", but of course the "TNGA" released in 2016 by the latest generation of Prius and therefore designed for thermal or hybrid traction chains. This has been modified to accommodate the largest battery possible, positioned in a part of its floor and under the back seat. Architectural constraints that limit the capacity of this battery to only 53 kWh, when rivals current or future UX 300e claim 10 to 30 more. Result: an announced autonomy of 400 km … on the very unrealistic NEDC cycle. In practice, it will therefore be more reliant on a range of 300 km.
Fast charge of 50 kW
Consisting of Panasonic lithium-ion cells derived from those used for the rechargeable Prius, the battery weighs 350 kg and is content with air cooling. An option that could be the source of the Lexus low load power claimed: 50 kW when most recent electric models accept 100 or 150 kW. Japanese engineers, however, announce that a battery of more energy-dense cells could be used before the end of the model's life cycle, allowing for an increase in both battery life and recharge speed. For the planned launch in 2020, the UX 300e will have a 6.6 kW on-board charger for full Lexus wallbox charging in just over 8 hours.
Inside, seen from the front seats, the 300th does not differ from the UX Hybrid with a perfectly built board made of materials of excellent quality. On the other hand, at the rear, the integration of the battery raises the floor of 15 mm and the seat of the bench of 10 mm, which could be embarrassing for the most imposing templates. That said, if there is a point on which the 300th is to his advantage, it is the volume of loading. Cleared of the presence of the 12V battery which encumbers that of the hybrid version, the trunk passes from 220 to 300 liters on the standard of measurement VDA using bricks of a liter of capacity.
The UX 300e, which is content with two front-wheel drive, takes over the permanent magnet synchronous motor Toyota Mirai whose power was brought here to 150 kW (204 hp). Performance is not announced at this point, but Lexus says the top speed of the 300th was electronically limited to 160 km / h. In action, the first quality of the UX 300e leaps to the ears: the quality of silence is simply remarkable thanks, first of all, to a stiffened structure in many places compared to the hybrid version, but also to a soundproofing enhanced and an active noise canceling device using the onboard audio system to neutralize the most troublesome frequencies of air and rolling noise; and it's very effective.
On a dynamic level, the 300e also shows its advantage thanks to a lowered center of gravity and a well calibrated damping guaranteeing a stable and precise behavior. Very easy to handle, it allows, like the Hyundai Kona, to modulate the regenerative braking of the electric motor via the paddles to the steering wheel. An engine with 150 kW (204 hp) is quite sufficient to move the 1,900 kg of the UX300, but should be a little fair to compete on the strict performance with the future Tesla Model Y , BMW ix3 and Volvo XC40 Recharge almost all advertised as twice as powerful. The Lexus UX300e is expected to make concessions in 2020 in Europe and China, Japan in 2021.