The Lexus LC 500h is certainly a sight to behold. Essentially the greener version of the V8-powered LC 500, the LC 500h features a unique transmission setup with a four-speed gearbox connected to a CVT with two electric motors. However, don’t giggle because there’s a good reason for it.

In a report by Automotive News, Koji Sato, chief engineer for the LC 500h says the new design is to eliminate the ‘rubber band’ feel of conventional CVTs. Unsure what the ‘rubber band’ effect is?

When you press on the accelerator hard, most CVTs increase the engine speed (revs) quickly and stay there, forcing the driver to wait while the car accelerates. This creates the droning sounds that CVT bashers dislike. That is what Lexus’ new transmission aims to eliminate. Here, the four-speed automatic modulates the CVT’s output and creates an intentionally perceived gearshift.


Sato says that during acceleration, the new gearbox in the LC 500h simulates six shifts in addition to the four actual shifts, but drivers will be unable to tell which is which. The two-transmission setup is part of the Multi Stage Hybrid System on the LC 500h, which includes a 3.5 litre V6 petrol engine providing 295 hp and 348 Nm, mated to an electric motor and a 44.6 kW lithium-ion battery pack.

The total system output is rated at 354 hp, and Lexus is targetting a sub-five second 0-to-100 km/h time for the LC 500h. As a comparison, the 467 hp/527 Nm 5.0 litre naturally-aspirated V8-powered LC 500 has a 10-speed automatic transmission, and does the century sprint in under 4.5 seconds.

According to Sato, Toyota President Akio Toyoda pushed for the transmission, which could also find its way into other hybrid Lexus vehicles in the future, such as the next-gen LS full-size sedan and GS midsize sedan. Even Toyota hybrid models can opt for the transmission should the need arise.