With new global boss Takashi Watanabe at the helm, Lexus is finally venturing into the modern age of fully electric vehicles. To pick up the pace, Watanabe said Lexus will “humbly look at and learn from” Tesla’s accomplishments.
Watanabe took over as president of Lexus in April after former brand boss Koji Sato succeeded longtime Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda.
The new leader says fully electric vehicles will open up new possibilities for Lexus to expand the brand.
“In 2026, we will introduce the next-generation battery EV that re-innovates the vehicle modular structure, significantly alters our production methods and completely re-imagines the software platform,” Watanabe stated (via Automotive News), adding, “We have also prioritized vehicle design to embody the essence of Lexus.”
Lexus aims to sell 1 million EVs annually by 2030 as it works toward an all-electric lineup by 2035. According to the brand’s boss, the luxury automaker will spearhead Toyota’s next-gen EV offensive.
Despite the enthusiasm, Toyota and Lexus combined sold a total of 24,466 electric vehicles last year. Compared to overall sales of over 9.5 million, EVs accounted for a mere 0.26% of the share.
With a little over 7,400 EV sales through the first seven months of 2023, they still represent less than 1% of combined Toyota and Lexus sales. In the US, Lexus has sold only 2,068 units of its first EV model, the RZ electric SUV.
Lexus to “look and learn” from Tesla’s EV success
To pick up the pace and close the widening gap with EV leaders like Tesla and BYD, Lexus’s parent company, Toyota, recently revealed multiple emerging technologies and production methods.
At a technical briefing in June, Toyota highlighted several new innovations it planned to introduce, including advanced EV batteries, design improvements to enhance efficiency, and manufacturing upgrades to streamline output.
Toyota is vowing its next-gen EV batteries, due out in 2026, will provide nearly 500 miles of (over 800 km) range with a 20% cost reduction compared to the bZ4X.
More recently, the Japanese automaker showed off its next-gen EV production line during a plant tour with Giga casting technology, a process Tesla introduced in 2020.
Lexus will piggyback off the new technology and processes to better compete as electric vehicle sales are only expected to continue rising.
“We need to make it easier to build and simplify as much as possible,” Watanabe said. He added that it’s “important to humbly look at and learn from” Tesla’s success.
Despite using Toyota’s tech, Lexus still needs to differentiate itself. “We need to be more unique — we need to define that,” the brand boss explained that Lexus will need to go beyond the product, including a software operating system.
Lexus will introduce a concept of its next-gen EV at the Japan Mobility Show, expected to roll out in 2026.
As with Toyota, introducing this technology is better late than never. Industry leaders like Tesla have been improving efficiency in all areas.
By the time Toyota and Lexus’s next-gen EVs roll out in 2026, Tesla will already be on to the next step.
Advanced batteries, design improvements, and manufacturing upgrades will help Toyota (and Lexus) compete, but delaying it will only put it further behind the pack.