Lexus enthusiasts and SUV fans hoping to get their hands on a Lexus RZ 450e could be in for a wait. The company will be producing fewer than 5,000 of the highly anticipated electric SUVs this year. The unique, Yoke-wheeled Lexus SUV was announced around a year ago, and essentially looked like an upmarket version of the Toyota bZ4X.
It boasts a DIRECT4 dual-electric-motor, an all-wheel-drive powertrain, and a 225-mile range, among other features. It isn't all doom and gloom though, and you will be able to get your hands on a yoke wheel soon enough if Lexus sticks to its new deployment strategy.
A Lexus spokesperson confirmed to SlashGear that the company feels it can produce around 4,900 RZ's in the first year, and that number will increase in the future. The spokesperson also suggested that potential customers in all 50 states would be able to get behind the wheel of a Lexus RZ if they wanted to. Lexus dealers in all 50 states, including non-ZEV states, will receive two RZs.
At least one of those will become part of the dealership's loaner fleet, meaning it will be available for test drives, demonstrations, and training. So you can make sure the RZ is for you, and confirm it will be worth the wait, before joining the list of people who want one of their own.
If you can get your hands on an RZ, and you're not too set on the "Steer-By-Wire" Yoke-wheeled option, you'll be able to get a version with a normal steering wheel for just under $60,000. It is built on the same platform as the Toyota bZ4X, but that extra $20,000 gets you a number of luxury touches and a performance boost — since the dual-motor configuration is standard for the RZ. The RZ goes from 0-60 in just 5.6 seconds, much like other comparable electric vehicles.
But enthusiasts will hold out for the "Steer-By-Wire" version, or the "One Motion Grip" system as it's known in Europe. The yoke wheel and the car's wheels aren't actually connected. Instead, the yoke sends a signal to the steering rack which turns the car's wheels where you want them to go. As the yoke has no physical connection to the real wheels, there is no actual feedback from the road like in a gas car.
To make up for this, a second motor is in place to give the driver feedback when needed. The advantage of a fly-by-wire system is the variable steering ratio. Lexus can program how much a turn of the wheel relates to the car's wheels turning. So you going from full lock to full lock on both sides only requires the yoke wheel to move 150 degrees. Steering can also be adjusted depending on the vehicle's speed and what the driver is doing.