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What the battery or gas debate means for the Lexus LS 500

A view of the LS 500 dashboard.
Brian Champagne

The LS started out as Lexus’ most popular model, but it has slipped to close to the worst in sales. UPR Contributor Brian Champagne spent a week checking one out, and tells you what’s on the horizon that could make things worse for the $88,000 sedan.

Try not to fall asleep in the LS 500 Lexus loaned us. It is equipped with...everything, and it all works. 10 airbags, 23 speakers, and it links with your Alexa or smart watch.

It’s their biggest sedan and launched the whole brand in 1990. Lexus sold 42,806 LSs that year...its biggest year. It’s on track to clear 4,000 in 2021.

They ditched the V-8 for a smaller twin turbo that gets 27 highway; not bad for hauling around every luxury feature you can think of. If you want a sleek, gas-powered sedan, you might want to act sooner, because of this month’s news from Toyota. At a press conference in Tokyo, where they speak mostly Japanese, CEO Akio Toyoda announced they’re going electric. They want to sell 3.5 million battery-electrics every year by 2030. And Toyoda the man said the Lexus brand will go all-electric in North America, Europe, and China by 2030, and100% electric worldwide by 2035.

“Probably the biggest hurdle or challenge is to increase customer acceptability in carbon neutral-based design,” said Lexus designer Simon Humphries, speaking a foreign language at the press conference. “All people agree that this type of direction is a necessity but whether or not they're willing to accept that in practice is the next big hurdle I think for example we're usable fabric reusable materials all these type of factors will have to change the way of customer thinking then perhaps we can get to a point where we can achieve the numbers that have been talked about.”

Maybe building a battery-electric version of everything in the Toyota line will help with that acceptance; they’re showing off 13 different rides, with a battery-powered crossover that looks like an RX coming here in 2022.

But starting off your battery vehicle line with a crossover is not good news for the LS, which might end up on the wrong side of the battery or gas debate, but as smooth as it is, is already on the wrong side of the car versus crossover battle.