Most current EVs have a 400-volt architecture
Going from 400-volt to 800-volt allows to almost double the charging speed
Lexus says only its EVs with 100 kWh or bigger batteries will run on 800-volts
Lexus is about to introduce its first electric vehicle in America but it has already confirmed improvements to its future models.
Toyota’s luxury brand is about to introduce the RZ 450e, an electric compact SUV that will be its first fully electric model despite the brand having pioneered hybrid powertrains in the premium segment.
This upcoming model will use a 400-volt architecture like most other electric vehicles on the market but Lexus is not resting on their laurels.
Indeed, some automakers have already adopted an 800-volt architecture and it seems this is where the industry is headed. In order to be ahead of the curve, Lexus said it has already finalised the engineering of an 800-volt architecture for use in some of its future EVs.
Currently, only the Porsche Taycan, the Audi e-Tron GT, the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and the Kia EV6 are running 800-volt systems.
The advantage of using a higher voltage is the capability to charge the battery at a much faster rate. This is why the previously named models are capable of charging almost twice as fast as their competition when using a fast-charging station.
Lexus does not intend to have all of its EVs using an 800-volt system however, since it said the increased charging speed would not be sufficient to justify the higher cost it would incur in vehicles equipped with smaller batteries.
The changeover point in terms of battery size will be around 100 kWh according to the automaker, which means that compact cars with batteries in the 80 kWh range will remain at 400-volts while larger vehicles using batteries larger than 100 kWh will benefit from the 800-volt architecture.
To base its calculations, Lexus is using a 150-kW charging speed, which is the maximum that can be achieved with most fast chargers in North America.
Lexus is not the only automaker to believe smaller vehicles don’t need the faster charging, since Tesla has already expressed that its Model 3 and Model Y will remain at 400-volts even if the company develops an 800-volt architecture to use in other models, such as the Cybertruck and the Semi.