Starting with the new version of the medium crossover as well as the electric RZ, Lexus has announced that it intends to offer steer-by-wire technology in Europe from the end of next year, eliminating the mechanical connection between the steering wheel and the wheels as well as the need to be present of a steering column.
The same technology will also be offered by Toyota, albeit a year later, with a vehicle the updated version of the bZ4X which is technologically related to the Lexus RZ.
This particular technology is certainly not new in motoring as Nissan offered it as an optional option on the Infiniti Q50 about a decade ago, however, at that time it was a particularly expensive equipment option with an additional cost of 1,000 euros.
Its advantage over conventional technology is that it drastically reduces the number of moving parts in a car resulting in less weight and by extension more energy savings, but also lower costs and less complexity in production, a goal that is very high on the agenda. of the Toyota group and in the new processes of reforming the production lines that it has initiated.
Despite the above clear advantages, the adoption of the technology has been low in the past by manufacturers given the low response from consumers due to high costs and also due to the complex European legislation surrounding it.
It should be noted that according to the relevant legislation, cars equipped with steer-by-wire technology must have two electric motors and two control units dedicated exclusively to the operation of this technology on the grounds that if there was any form of malfunction in one of the motors or the control unit the other acting as a backup, allowing the driver to maintain control of the car.
Another advantage of this technology is that the absence of a mechanical connection between the steering wheel and the wheels eliminates the need for a traditional steering column and all that this entails for the ease of layout of a car interior.
In terms of its operation, the steering wheel “communicates” electrically with an electric motor that turns the wheels, an element that also ensures more comfort as less “unwanted” information and vibrations from the wheels are practically transferred to the driver’s hands but and guarantees greater precision as it transfers the driver’s commands more efficiently to the wheels, regardless of speed and road surface quality.
Lexus has already built a prototype version of the RZ with this system and offered it to the Japanese public for testing at the Japanese test track in Nagoya.
It should be noted that this is a second generation technology which increases the steering angle of the steering wheel to 200 degrees – in the first generation of this technology the corresponding size was 180 degrees. Also, this technology fits perfectly with the square steering wheel that Lexus already offers in some of its models.
In addition, as Toyota notes regarding the integration of this technology in the bZ4X, all instruments and digital screens will be redesigned and adapted to the new square shape of the steering wheel.
In addition, the Japanese presented another variant of this technology, called Neo, originally intended for disabled cars, which replaces the acceleration and deceleration pedals with paddles that are manually controlled by the driver. Furthermore, aside from that particular use, the technology could prove particularly useful in an autonomous future where pedaling will be the exception rather than the rule.