New Lexus ROV concept is a hydrogen-fuelled off-road buggy

Published: 02 December 2021

► Off-road buggy runs on hydrogen-fuelled combustion engine
► Near-zero emissions meet ICE-style sound and feel
► Part of Toyota’s exploration of greener possibilities

Meet the Lexus WTF. Sorry, make that ROV. It’s a concept designed to explore possibilities for running combustion engines on hydrogen – and to shake up its fusty image in the process.

The name is short for Recreational Off-highway Vehicle, and it’s aimed at those (principally in the US) who like to go off the beaten track at weekends.

And like Toyota’s newly unveiled GR Yaris H2 concept, it’s intended to send a message out to driving enthusiasts that the future doesn’t have to be all about battery-electric vehicles.

lexus rov rear

The ROV uses a 1.0-litre engine modified to sip hydrogen rather than petrol. Lexus says it’s torquey and responsive, helped by hydrogen’s fast combustion speed, and has close to zero tailpipe emissions (bar a negligible amount of burnt oil) combined with familiar combustion-engine sounds.

It has a tubular frame and long-travel suspension, and the two seats have their own suspension units too. And, being a Lexus, it clings on to a few luxury touches, including a leather steering wheel.

lexus rov interior

Lexus Europe boss Spiros Fotinos told CAR that it was part of a serious exploration of hydrogen possibilities, but also a way of making a statement: ‘If I showed you a Mirai badged as a Lexus you’d say, “Okay, that’s expected – you have the technology in house, you’ve Lexus-ified it and here it is, thanks very much.” That would be too predictable.

‘What we want to do is stretch the brand into places nobody’s expecting, like we did with the Lexus yacht a few years ago. That doesn’t mean we’re not looking at these obvious elements as well.’

By Colin Overland

CAR's managing editor: wordsmith, critic, purveyor of fine captions