Cardboard Lexus Is One Big Crumple Zone



Inspired by Japanese origami and powered by an electric motor, this drivable replica of a Lexus IS sedan is made from 1,700 sheets of laser-cut cardboard.



Lexus’ motto, Creating Amazing, means ‘relentlessly pushing the boundaries of design, technology, craftsmanship and customer care. An experience as amazing as the car itself.”  To illustrate that philosophy, Toyota’s luxury vehicle marque has created a rather amazing automobile: an origami-inspired, full-size rolling sculpture whose body and interior are composed of precision-cut cardboard. The replica of a Lexus IS sedan is fully drivable as well, though one had best check for rain in the forecast before taking it for a spin.



A whopping 1,700 individually-shaped pieces of cardboard went into the replica Lexus IS sedan and although 3D-printing was NOT involved, plenty of computer-aided design was required. Technicians scanned each component’s details into a computer, which then calculated the precise dimensions of each segment. Then it was off to a programmable laser cutter where the sheets of cardboard were individually cut and made ready for assembling together.



Not every part of the replica Lexus is made of cardboard, mind you – a robust steel and aluminum sub-frame hidden deep within the warren of cardboard panels supports the electric motor required to motivate the sculpture. Other functional non-cardboard components include door hinges and headlights.


The cardboard car was built for Lexus by London-based specialist companies LaserCut WORKS and Scales and Models. Lexus provided a three-dimensional digital model of their IS sedan, which company technicians then divided into working sections. Each section was then digitally rendered in slices just 10mm thick, resulting in a series of two-dimensional profiles which were precisely laser-cut from cardboard sheeting.




Organizing the many similar yet distinctly different cardboard sheets was a project in itself; each layer was given a unique reference number to ensure there were no errors when it came to final assembly. At this point, the computers yielded control to their human masters – actual people worked hands-on using water-based wood glue to attach each cardboard sheet to its neighbor. Since every application of the glue required 10 minutes to set, the entire assembly process took three months to reach the finish line!



Though LaserCut WORKS and Scales and Models can boast extensive experience in the design and creation of prototypes, architectural models and bespoke commissions, constructing a life-size drivable Lexus IS sedan from cardboard required them to push the envelope in a number of new directions. Luckily for all concerned, not a single paper cut was suffered by any of the participating staff. (via ©

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