Luxury car giant Lexus is making headlines for creating a fully functional, drivable cardboard replica of its IS sedan. The ‘Origami Car’ was made by gluing slices of cardboard together on a steel and aluminum frame, with an electric motor powering it. The one-of-a-kind vehicle comes with fully fitted interiors, functioning doors, headlights, and wheels.
The striking cardboard car is meant to be a tribute to the thousands of skilled men and women – called takumi – who work on the Lexus production lines. These people apparently sharpen their craftsmanship and dexterity by practicing making an origami cat using only their non-dominant hand.
“The Origami Car takes the spirit of this talent to a far higher level, while also embracing the spirit of Lexus’s Creating Amazing global brand campaign,” the firm said in a statement.
The car was built by London-based companies LaserCut Works and Scales and Models, which specialise in creating prototypes and architectural models. Lexus provided them with a digital 3D model of the IS sedan, which they used as a base to create the Origami Car. The team started by dividing the model into parts – the main body, dashboard, seats, and wheels – and then digitally rendered them in 10mm slices.
This step provided the two-dimensional profiles needed for laser cutting 1,700 sheets of 10-mm cardboard. Each layer was assigned a reference number to help in the assembling process, which was entirely done by hand. They used a water-based glue, which had to be left on for 10 minutes after each application. Accuracy was key because changes couldn’t be made once the glue had dried.
“This was a very demanding job,” said Ruben Marcos, founder and director of Scales and Models. “Five people were involved in the initial design, modelling, laser cutting, and assembly. Just like Lexus, we were committed to producing the best possible quality.”
“The seats took a few attempts to get just right and the wheels required a lot of refining,” he added. “Once we could see the physical pieces taking shape, we could identify where we needed to make improvements – as with anything, there were some elements of trial and error, but as we had all the resources we needed in-house, this made the changes easier to produce. In effect, we created our own production line.”
“There was a lot of repetition in the process and we had to work with military precision, just like the teams that make the real Lexus cars.”
The Origami Car was finally ready in three months, and it turned out to be a worthy replica of the magnificent Lexus IS sedan.