The base FWD RX is still a great Lexus luxury SUV, so why can't the same be valid for a cheaper RZ?
Lexus will consider a more affordable derivative of the all-electric RZ SUV with a single motor if it's what the market demands, which could considerably broaden the appeal of the rather pricey RZ.
At the press launch of the new RZ 450e in France this week, CarBuzz asked Assistant Chief Engineer Yushi Higashiyama about the possibility of a cheaper, single-motor RZ 300e since we discovered a trademark filing for this name last year. A sportier F Sport variant is less likely, though.
"Right now, as you're aware, the [Toyota bZ4X and RZ] are both using the e-TNGA platform, so the change in motor is very possible," said Higashiyama. Pressed about whether a cheaper, single-motor Lexus RZ could come to the United States, Higashiyama told us, "depending on what the [specific] market needs and requests, we are prepared with the technology to provide these solutions."
So, from an engineering perspective, a single-motor RZ will be reasonably easy to manufacture. Toyota currently sells a single-motor, front-wheel-drive bZ4X with a modest 201 horsepower. In XLE guise, the bZ4X is only around $2,000 less expensive than its all-wheel-drive counterpart.
However, as the RZ is a more upscale vehicle that Higashiyama says displays a "considerable difference in refinement, ride quality, and comfort" relative to the bZ4X, it still won't be cheap. It also figures that even a single-motor version would be more potent than the single-motor bZ4X. We're guessing around 250 horses or so for a potential RZ 300e.
That would provide a nice gap between the RZ 300e and the RZ 450e's punchy 313-horsepower dual-motor powertrain. A simple FWD layout will also cost less to manufacture than the 450e's clever Direct4 AWD system, which uses parameters like speed and steering-angle sensor information to change the front-to-rear drive-force-ratio distribution constantly.
The new RZ 450e begins at just under $60,000, making it more expensive than the Tesla Model Y and Audi Q4 e-tron. If Lexus can get the starting price closer to $50,000 for the 300e, it'll have a better chance of stealing some sales from these more established players in the EV crossover market.
The base price of the RZ is especially pertinent since the vehicle will not qualify for federal tax credits as it is not built in North America.
Furthermore, customers can buy a similarly sized RX for under $50,000 in the USA, making the RZ an even tougher sell for those on the fence about going fully electric.
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