A recent trademark application filed by Lexus with the US Patent and Trademark office has sparked debate among auto industry experts who can’t decide if Lexus is about to introduce an AMG-rivalling super-limo, or a new hydrogen-powered green flagship.
Debate centres on the “LS-FC Concept” name, which AutoGuide uncovered as being registered on the 24th of April 2017, and suggests could point to a high-performance flagship version of Lexus' big limo.
The new-generation LS sedan is set to include the twin-turbo V6 LS 500 and petrol-electric LS 500h - but with Lexus bolstering its performance range with the RC F coupe and larger GS F sedan an image-leading LS F would round out the Japanese brand’s range.
But what engine would a potential LS F use? The naturally aspirated V8 from the GS F and LC 500 coupe has just about been tuned to its limit with 351kW and while Lexus could turn up the heat on its new twin-turbo V6 the current 310 output would need a significant boost to match the recently updated Mercedes-AMG S 63 and its 450kW output.
It seems more likely that the LS-FC Concept foretells a hydrogen fuel cell powered variant of the LS, in much the same way as the 2015 LF-FC concept did when it first previewed the styling of the new LS.
Certainly the “FC” portion of the name traditionally stands for fuel cell, and Lexus’ parent company, Toyota, is well advanced in its development of zero emissions hydrogen technology with the production Mirai sedan as well as prototype hydrogen fuelled busses in Japan and semi trucks in the USA.
It’s the break with Lexus’ usual naming convention that appears to have caused the confusion. There are exceptions to the rule, but Lexus usually titles its concepts with an LF prefix, which stands for Lexus Future, followed by a two letter designation that either points to the model series (like the LF-NX and LF-LC) or the powertrain or bodystyle (as with the LF-FC and LF-C2).
The LS-FC Concept trademark indicates that Lexus will most certainly use the LS limo as a starting point, but with a hydrogen concept having already appeared and room in the range for a more emotive fast four-door, there’s still some wriggle room as to what the FC moniker might equate to.