Lexus UX250h to feature Predictive Efficient Drive
A new level of integration to increase efficiency of a hybrid will be demonstrated this Fall when the Lexus UX250h compact crossover is introduced. The new UX was shown recently at the 2018 New York Auto Show after a global debut at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show. It will use a variant of the 2.0-L four-cylinder that’s also in the non-hybrid UX200, but in a complex strategy that actually will minimize engine operation.
The new strategy is called Predictive Efficient Drive, and it incorporates a new charge control computer for the battery pack. Because the UX250h is not a plug-in, it reportedly continues the Toyota usage of the low-cost nickel/metal hydride propulsion batteries.
The sophisticated control system requires the driver to enter a destination. Then, using navigation data on the route ahead, plus satellite traffic information, it activates a predictive eco drive algorithm to mix gasoline engine operation with the hybrid’s electric drive for maximum efficiency. The computer continuously analyzes the route, looking for opportunities to maximize regenerative braking; where it sees them, it switches to electric drive operation at the appropriate time.
If the car is approaching a downgrade, the vehicle switches to electric drive sufficiently ahead of time to create some “space” in the battery pack for the upcoming recovery. If it sees an upgrade ahead, it may coast into it on the gasoline engine, but switch to electric drive to continue up the hill, then recover much of the electrical energy with regenerative braking. If the computer is able to predict the car will have to stop in a short distance, either because of a stop sign, traffic congestion, or even a known stop for a coffee break, it prioritizes electric drive operation. So when the vehicle is coming to a stop, it recovers some of the electrical energy with regenerative braking.
The system also uses artificial intelligence (AI) to learn the driver’s motoring habits to enhance its ability to predict behavior.
If the motorist is caught in approaching a severely congested road, the system can be prepared for an alternate route that has been used before. If the driver switches to a new congested route bypass offered by the navigation system, Predicted Efficient Drive can perform an AI analysis to optimize operation on the new route. Should there be no good bypass for the congestion, the hybrid system sets the charge level to the maximum as the vehicle approaches the area. So in the stop-and-go that will be unavoidable, the amount of pure electric drive will be maximized, rather than require repeated gasoline engine restarts.
Although the initial application of the Predicted Efficient Drive is in a simple hybrid, there are even greater opportunities to optimize regenerative braking with the larger battery packs in a plug-in hybrid or a battery electric vehicle.
The UX250h will have a rear electric motor to provide four-wheel-drive, a trend being seen in a number of new electrified crossovers.