Hydrogen ICE Power Back on the Table with Lexus Off-Road Concept

Lexus has debuted its hydrogen ICE powered off-road concept at the Tokyo Auto Salon which opened today.

The Lexus ROV (recreational off-road vehicle) concept tries to reinvent the SUV in a bid to bring users “closer to nature in a driving experience unlike any conventional passenger vehicle”, according to the automaker. It is the first Lexus to use a hydrogen-powered engine, claiming environmental credentials while providing the sound and feel of an internal combustion engine.

Compressed hydrogen fuel is stored in a high-pressure tank and introduced into the engine using direct injection. The result is an environmentally efficient engine that produces high-response torque from the hydrogen’s rapid combustion. It also maintains the stimulating feel of an ICE vehicle. With engine oil consumption kept to a minimum, there are virtually no CO2 emissions when driving, Lexus says.

The ROV Concept has a rugged pipe frame and a lightweight, compact body. It is fitted with a protection cage suitable for any off-road environment and a front grille to protects passengers. The front wings prevent stones and mud from splashing upwards, while a suspension cover connected to the rear-mounted hydrogen fuel tank both protects the ROV’s functional components and references the durability inherited from Lexus SUVs. The L-shaped headlights and rear combination lamps and the Lexus name on the rear are adopted from the all-new NX. The bodywork is finished in an Iron Oxide colour.

Inside, simple metrics are used to give the driver instant access to key driving information. The seats are upholstered in a synthetic leather, while high-quality leather is used for the steering wheel and shift lever. The automaker promises dynamic performance with precise handling, throttle, brake and steering response. The sequential gearbox is operated using paddle shifts; the drivetrain allows the driver to select two or all-wheel drive and features a locking differential.

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in Europe. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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