Gas is dead, long live gas. At least, that’s what we’re always told whenever a new hybrid car or battery-powered bike appears on the market. But now, eco tech is coming to the off-road world, courtesy of a new concept from Lexus.
Now, “off-road” and “Lexus” aren’t words that are often seen together, save for the outlandish GXOR concept. But the luxury Toyota arm known for building bougie SUVs has been increasingly targeting the outdoor enthusiast in recent years.
It’s taken that focus one step further with its latest concept, a new Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle – or a Utility Terrain Vehicle (UTV) to me and you.
And, if it wanted to make a good UTV, it sounds like Lexus has hit all the right notes. The concept has exposed, beefy suspension; a protective cage around the seats; and chunky, off-road tires to keep you in control.
That all sounds nice and practical for when you’re blasting through the trails.
To power this UTV concept, Lexus has chosen its latest low-emission power plant, a hydrogen-powered engine. Presumably to appeal to eco-minded off-road enthusiasts?
The beating heart of the UTV is a one-liter hydrogen engine, which is Lexus’ first motor of this kind.
The company says the motor works just like a gasoline engine and is fed via a high-pressure hydrogen tank, which delivers the gas to the engine via a direct hydrogen injector.
The hydrogen tank is protected by the suspension elements at the rear of the UTV.
Lexus added that the new hydrogen engine produces “close to zero emissions”, except for any engine oil that may be burned while driving.
According to Lexus, this means the engine combines the “exciting sound of an ICE” with the low emissions of hydrogen power.
So, Lexus has found a reasonably small sector of the off-road community to appeal to here. But, for some reason, the company is making that target demographic even smaller and is eyeing luxurious, eco-minded, off-road enthusiasts.
To do that, the UTV has been fitted with all the premium trimmings you’d find in a Lexus car.
Details include a leather steering wheel and a “sculpted shift knob”. The seats also incorporate suspension elements to smooth out the ruts and roots of the trails, and are covered in a hard-wearing synthetic leather.
So, if you’re a rich person in the market for an off-road toy that’s also luxurious inside and won’t harm the planet, Lexus has you covered. For some reason.