Is the subcompact BEV good enough to be brought to the US?
When Lexus unveiled the all-new RZ a few months ago, it was touted as the brand's first dedicated Battery Electric Vehicle, but not the first EV. That distinction goes to the UX 300e, which premiered today with an updated model for 2023. Based on the UX 200/200h we know, the 300e has been for sale worldwide since 2019, but never in the US. Now with updates to the model that increase its appeal, let's dive into whether or not it's worth bringing stateside.
When the UX 300e first debuted, it came with an electric motor producing 201 horsepower and 221 lb-ft of torque. A 54.4-kilowatt-hour battery under the floor gave the vehicle a 248-mile range based on Europe's NEDC cycle, and it sat on the same platform as its combustion-engined siblings - Toyota's GA-C platform. It was never intended to come to the US, but perhaps it's time for that to change.
A lot has changed since 2019. American demand for EVs is higher than ever, and we don't see that trend slowing down any time soon.
So, could the UX 300e be a contender here? Well, for starters, the 2023 model year 300e's 54.4-kWh battery pack was increased to 72.8 kWh. According to Lexus, this improves the range to 450 km (about 280 miles), which is a 40% increase. It also says the model "underwent rigorous testing and evaluation at Toyota Technical Center Shimoyama," leading to 20 extra spot welds over the last model along with "optimally tuned" electric power steering and shock absorbers.
The vehicle also sees an improvement in its suite of safety features similar to the UX 200h, mainly an increase in pedestrian and driver safety in regards to its cruise control and lane-keeping assist. There's also the new ability to control car features on your smartphone, such as lock/unlock and powering on the car. Finally, some new exterior cameras and a new touchscreen round out the changes.
For the most part, it seems once you get past the additions to the UX line as a whole, you're left with a vehicle with only a slightly improved range over the last one and not much else. Lexus hasn't said anything about the BEV having increased power or a faster charging time, nor was it stated how much more it would cost over the last one.
With this in mind, it's hard to see a reason why Lexus would want to bring the model to the US in its current state. The SUV BEV class that it would be competing in is slowly becoming saturated with some pretty stellar offerings, such as the Hyundai Ioniq 5, Mustang Mach-E, and Genesis GV60, just to name a few - vehicles that in their base forms offer better performance than the 300e, not to mention that all of them benefit from much higher performance trims.
On top of this, sales of the UX in the US are down 45% so far this year compared to last year. Bringing the car to the US probably doesn't make sense, at least not until more is done. Lexus, and Toyota as a whole, understand this, which is why we wouldn't be surprised if we see a similar US-bound Lexus model based on the e-TNGA platform in the near future.