Lexus Developing Luxury FCEV Sedan

More car brands are broadening their alternative energy vehicle lineup. Growing beyond the traditional profile of the economical family car, carmakers are slowly adding hybrid sports cars and luxury cars to the mix.

And now Lexus is joining in.

Lexus is planning to launch its first hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicle (FCEV) by 2017. The car will be based on the Lexus LS, the company’s star luxury sedan that has been in production for 26 years.

Lexus currently offers a hybrid sedan under the same badge. The all-wheel drive LS 600h L debuted in 2008 and is powered by a 5.0-liter V8 along with electric hybrid motor drive.

SEE ALSO: 2013 Lexus LS 600h L Review

For the FCEV, Lexus will swap the hybrid power unit for a fuel cell system that includes a 220-kilowatt electric motor, a 150-kw fuel cell unit under the front seat and two hydrogen tanks mounted in the rear of the car. Lexus is anticipating a range of 239 miles.

In order to accommodate the fuel cell system, a few modifications will need to be made to the LS, including expanding air scoops for extra ventilation. Curb weight is expected to come in lighter than the LS hybrid at around 4,630 pounds.

Lexus has not released pricing for the FCEV LS, but analysts are anticipating the car will cost more than the LS 600h L. The MSRP for a 2015 LS 600h L starts at around $120,000.

The FCEV LS will be following in the footsteps of its cousin, the Toyota Mirai. This mid-sized sedan was just launched in Japan as the world’s first production car powered with a fuel cell system. Toyota will be offering the Mirai to the U.S. next October, when it begins sales in California.