Lexus hires team to build electric cardboard car, possibly not rainproof

7 Oct 2015

The Lexus 'cardboard IS'. Image via Lexus

With the help of lasers and origami folds, a team of UK designers hired by Lexus has been tasked with building an electric cardboard car that gives new meaning to ‘going green’.

The decision to build an electric cardboard car isn’t out of some desire to trump Tesla or Nissan in the electric car game, but rather to celebrate the elite designers of Lexus’ native Japan, the takumi.

According to the BBC, the takumi spawn creations using any type of material, but, traditionally, their creative abilities are tested by asking them to create an origami cat using their weaker hand.

With this Japanese tradition in mind, the company asked the UK design teams at LaserCut Works and Scales and Models to build them an origami car that not only looks like a real car but can actually drive as well.

Cardboard car interior

Cardboard car interior. Image via Lexus

Powered by an electric engine, the car is based on the shape of the Lexus IS car and, although it has a steel and aluminium frame which will offer the sturdiness of a car, everything else is made entirely out of high-grade cardboard.

In total, the collaboration used 1,700 laser-cut sheets of recycled cardboard, which cover both the exterior and interior down to the seatbelt buckle and gearstick.

By using a 3D model of the car, the teams were able to create the necessary parts using 10mm-thick wedges of cardboard, which all had to be glued together over the three months it took to build.

Cardboard car wheel

Cardboard car wheel. Image via Lexus

Of course, Lexus don’t expect to be selling the ‘cardboard IS’ anytime soon, or ever, as it is not exactly as weatherproof as its commercial models.

Speaking of the building process, Scales and Models’ founder and director Ruben Marcos said there was a considerable amount of trial and error involved.

“The seats took a few attempts to get just right and the wheels required a lot of refining. 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.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic