Lexus won’t offer steer-by-wire, yoke at RZ450e EV launch in US

The 2023 Lexus RZ 450e electric crossover has begun arriving in the U.S., but the brand’s first mass produced global electric vehicle won’t arrive with the brand’s newest technology. The Lexus won’t offer a steer-by-wire system with a yoke when it launches the RZ 450e EV in the U.S. Both will be offered in the U.S. at an unspecified date, Lexus confirmed to Green Car Reports over the weekend. 

At launch, the RZ 450e will be sold only with the conventional rack-and-pinion steering with electric assist, the same as that in the related 2023 Toyota bZ4X. It’s connected to a conventional steering wheel, unlike the open-top, flat-bottomed steering wheel with the steer-by-wire system that looks like as much like a video game console as the steering yoke used in aviation. 

When the system does arrive in the Lexus RZ in the U.S., it will be offered alongside the conventional steering system. Lexus did not have a price or timeline for when that will be, and it didn’t have a name, either. 

“We don’t call it a yoke,” Leigh Anne Sessions, senior manager, Lexus Communications, said in a press briefing. “We don’t have a name for it yet.”

It will not be called One Motion Grip, or OMG, as it is in Europe, where the system is planned to launch as an option in the 2025 model year. 

2023 Lexus RZ 450e

2023 Lexus RZ 450e

Expected to roll out in subsequent models, steer-by-wire can be equipped with a conventional steering wheel and is still going through iterative testing that included a mostly favorable first impression when GCR tested prototype versions of the 2023 Lexus RZ 450e in May 2022. 

“Steer-by-wire is one of the core technologies for Lexus moving forward,” assistant chief engineer Yushi Higashiyama said through a translator. “Acceleration and braking has improved so much we have to update the steering to create that triad for the direct connection with the vehicle.”

Sized like the Lexus NX compact crossover but with a wheelbase aligned with the larger Lexus RX, the 2023 Lexus RZ 450e uses a 71.4-kwh battery to supply power to a 150-kw motor up front and the 80-kw motor in back for standard all-wheel drive. Lexus estimates 313 hp and a 0-62 mph time of 5.3 seconds. 

Lexus is not the first automaker to experiment with new steering systems in electric vehicles. Tesla introduced a steering yoke on the Model S and Model X, then bowed to customer complaints and offered a conventional steering wheel as well after two years on the market. The Lexus system differs from Tesla’s, and can only be turned 150 degrees before lock.

Patience appears to be the right approach when reinventing the wheel. 

“Right now, we’re enjoying an extra period to really refine the system,” Higashiyama said. “Steering is such a crucial part of the vehicle.”

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