Cardboard Lexus IS Inspired By Origami

Lexus seems to like giving its employees the freedom to get involved in projects that have little to do with pumping up the bottom line. Earlier this year, the company unveiled a Lexus hoverboard that relies on magnetic levitation. True, that device can’t actually support a real rider, but it is way cool, nonetheless.

Now the car company has taken sustainability to awesomely weird new heights with a full size, origami-inspired version of its IS luxury sedan. According to, the car is crafted almost entirely from precision cut cardboard, including its complete interior, functioning doors, headlights, and rolling wheels. What’s more, it is fully driveable, thanks to an electric motor mounted on its steel and aluminum frame.

Working with LaserCut WORKS and Scales and Models, Lexus used some 1,700 sheets of cardboard stock to create the car. The concept is an homage to the company’s Japanese Takumi or “artisan” carmakers, who hone their skills by folding origami cats using only their non-dominant hand.

The unconventional materials posed a few problems for the artisans who built it. “The seats took a few attempts to get just right, and the wheels required a lot of refining,” Lexus says. “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.”

As a publicity stunt, the cardboard Lexus is a home run. It faithfully mirrors the exterior and interior shapes of the actual car and looks just different enough from the real thing that everyone who sees it is drawn to it and wants to know more about how it was made. What more could anyone ask of an advertising exercise?

Just don’t leave it out in the rain.

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Steve Hanley

Closely following the transition from internal combustion to electricity. Whether it's cars, trucks, ships, or airplanes, sustainability is the key. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.