lexus rov

Off-Road in Style: Lexus Reveals Hydrogen-Powered ROV Concept

Leave it to Lexus to try to toe the line between luxury and muddin’. Its ROV Concept UTV features the high-end brand’s first hydrogen engine.

Increasingly, hydrogen-powered engines are gaining traction. But if you’re surprised to hear about a hydrogen vehicle that’s not a zeppelin, you’re not alone. Out of the nearly 300 million consumer cars and trucks on the road in the United States, only about 7,500 run on hydrogen fuel.

Lexus grabs some attention, introducing its first hydrogen engine — but you won’t see the vehicle it’s in on the road. The powerplant headlines the brand’s new recreational off-highway vehicle (ROV), which it says churns out “near-zero” emissions.

According to Spiros Fotinos, the head of Lexus Europe, the brand positions it as an answer to “the growing passion for the outdoors and adventurous spirit of luxury consumers.”

Lexus ROV

Still in the concept phase, few known facts about the Lexus ROV exist. Lexus said it’s fully equipped to handle adventures like most other side-by-sides but hasn’t released a spec sheet yet. The idea is to prove that driving can be both eco-friendly and fun.

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The Lexus ROV “reflects a commitment by Lexus to ensure exhilarating driving can co-exist with a carbon-free society centered on responsible mobility,” the brand said.

The effort revolves around the 1.0L hydrogen internal combustion engine (ICE). Growing in popularity, many in the industry think the technology will soon be widespread. For now, it’s a bit boutique — and not necessarily emissions-cutting.

A study by Stanford University shows that hydrogen production currently adds to pollution rather than reduces it. That’s because current refining processes require burning natural gas and coal. As of now, hydrogen ICEs and fuel cells don’t offset as many emissions as they produce. Altogether, the world produces about 75 million tons of it per year.

Lexus is mum on the engine’s specifics; it’s about the only part of the new side-by-side without good photos.

lexus rov

And the engine isn’t the only part of the Lexus ROV geared toward connoisseurs. The side-by-side’s synthetic leather trimmings ooze characteristic Lexus luxury.

lexus rov interior

In context, it looks like the brand’s latest foray into lifestyle-oriented offerings. It also built a 65-foot yacht in recent years — apparently as an answer to its competitors’ gaudy ocean-going creations, like Aston Martin’s luxury submarine.

For now, there’s no way to tell whether Lexus’ side-by-side will compete with the likes of Polaris or Can-Am. Regardless, it currently makes a unicorn-shaped splash in the market.

Sam Anderson

Sam has roamed the American continent to follow adventures, explore natural wonders, and find good stories. After going to college to be a writer, he got distracted (or saved) by rock climbing and spent most of the next decade on the road, supporting himself with trade work. He's had addresses in the Adirondack Mountains, Las Vegas, and somehow Kansas, but his heart belongs in the Texas hill country.