A series of recent patent filings indicate Toyota may be considering bringing its steer-by-wire system to the U.S.
The automaker is launching steer-by-wire in combination with a steering yoke on the 2023 Lexus RZ 450e electric crossover in certain markets. But Lexus confirmed in February that these features won’t be available in the U.S. for now, but will be offered here at an unspecified future date. Four patent applications published by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on April 27 hint that this date might come sooner rather than later.
While there is no set correlation between patent filings and production timing, patenting a new feature is part of the process of bringing it to market. While automakers sometimes leave patented ideas on the shelf, in this case Lexus has actually discussed plans to bring steer-by-wire to the U.S.
One patent application was titled “steer-by-wire steering system” that covers the overall system, two applications were filed for “steering control device” that describe a controller that meters power to an electric motor that provides steering torque, and a fourth application was for “steering control device, vehicle power source system, and vehicle” that describes use of an auxiliary power source for the steering motor.
Steer-by-wire eliminates the physical connection of the steering wheel to the wheels, and instead uses electrically controlled motors to steer the wheels and provide feedback to the driver. An auxiliary power source is used for redundancy in case the main power source to the electric wheels is interrupted.
Steer-by-wire won’t replace conventional steering, Lexus has said, and the U.S. version also reportedly won’t be called One Motion Grip, or OMG, as it is in Europe. The system is planned to launch there as an option in 2025.
Meanwhile, the 2023 Lexus RZ 450e is arriving in U.S. showrooms with conventional rack-and-pinion steering with electric assist, the same hardware used in the related 2023 Toyota bZ4X.
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