A new lithium-ion battery has been introduced.
In Japan, Toyota has announced an updated version of its ES luxury sedan which undercuts European rivals like the Audi A6 and BMW 5 Series on price but offers comparable space and luxury. One of the most significant changes affects the ES Hybrid, also known as the ES 300h, which now introduces a lithium-ion battery in place of the nickel-hydrogen battery used previously. EV battery types are a hot topic right now and Toyota has joined the race to develop an even more capable solid-state battery.
In Japan, the ES is only sold as a hybrid. Lexus claims that this change improves the model's efficiency, but by how much exactly? Well, according to the official release, the previous model's average economy worked out to 20.6 km/liter (48.4 mpg in the US) while the new one manages 22.3 km/l (52.4 mpg).
However, these numbers are based on the WLTC combined cycle, which often differs from EPA ratings used in the US. Still, it gives an indication of the improvement that Lexus has been able to achieve. The current ES uses a 2.5-liter four-cylinder gas engine and a permanent-magnet electric motor to manage a total system output of 215 horsepower. Paired with a continuously variable transmission, it's far from a hot performer, but it was never meant to be one.
Other updates announced in the Japanese market include the addition of digital side-view mirrors on the F Sport version. The feature was originally available on the base ES only, making the ES the first production car ever to have it, but unfortunately, the tech is limited to Japan for now. This system utilizes interior digital displays with guidelines to make it easier for the driver to gauge the distance from other cars.
Blind-spot monitoring and a parking support brake have been added as standard equipment on all models. The infotainment system gets an upgrade, too, with SmartDeviceLink, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto integration accessible via the 12.3-inch screen. For customers with larger smartphones, the wireless charging system and storage tray have been made bigger to accommodate them.
In Japan, the ES begins at the equivalent of $56,687 at current exchange rates. These updates could be a preview of what to expect stateside when the 2021 ES is announced here.