Will Lexus build a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle like the Toyota Mirai?

Courtesy: Harold Cunningham/Getty Images
Courtesy: Harold Cunningham/Getty Images /

Lexus looks to the future of the brand with electrification, hybridization, and fuel cell technology.

In an interview with Wards Auto, Jeff Bracken, an executive advisor for the Lexus brand, said Lexus will likely build a fuel cell vehicle soon. What that vehicle will be, how it will operate, and when it will come, are all details he did not disclose.

Lexus is an important part of parent company Toyota’s influence in the North American market.

According to Bracken, of the approximately 2.4 million Toyota vehicles sold, Lexus accounts for about 300,000 sales. As time goes on and technology advances, the company must make sure it keeps pace.

Lexus Will Look Into a Variety of Possibilities

Bracken discussed the possibility of a fuel cell vehicle as well as a fully electric vehicle or a plug-in hybrid of some kind.

He was vague about what would come to market (perhaps because Lexus isn’t sure yet), but he made it clear that Lexus is looking into hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

"There has been no official announcement, but I would say that we would eventually have an electrified option. It could be a plug-in hybrid, an EV or a fuel-cell vehicle,” he said."

That leaves a lot of doors open, but when pushed on the issue, Bracken went on to say there is a possibility of a fuel cell and that people should “stay tuned.” That seems to be a pretty clear sign, and with Toyota’s current offerings, it seems Lexus could do it pretty easily.

It Could be a Lexus Version of Mirai

Toyota already has a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle. It’s the Mirai. Sold in select markets, the Mirai isn’t a wild sales success. However, the limited availability of the car in conjunction with a poor hydrogen fueling network makes things difficult.

Lexus has access to all the technology it needs in the Mirai to make its own model. Wards Auto stated that the Mirai is due for a model change in 2020. The publication tried to get Bracken to state whether or not Lexus should get on the fuel cell wagon when it updates the Mirai, but he sidestepped the question with the “stay tuned” comment.

The biggest hurdle for a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle is the fact that there’s not much infrastructure for hydrogen fueling stations. This limits the areas of the country that the car could be sold.

Due to this fact, it seems that the automaker would be best off going the route that Honda has with its Clarity vehicle. The company has a hybrid, fully electric, and hydrogen fuel cell versions of that one car.

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Bracken did discuss all three options. It wouldn’t be surprising to see something similar from Toyota’s luxury brand.