2. August 2013
Back in 2009 when the Lexus LFA was launched, chief engineer Haruhiko Tanahashi said, “The LFA is a thoroughbred supercar, a machine engineered to achieve a single goal – to deliver a supreme driving experience. Over the past decade we have pushed every boundary in pursuit of this goal and I believe we have created the most driver-orientated car we possibly could.”
And one direction that they pushed was, in effect, backwards.
That is, approximately 65% of the body-in-white of the LFA is made with carbon fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP). (The other 35%: aluminum alloy.)
As is Toyota’s way, the company decided that it would make the components in-house rather than outsource them to a supplier.
Back in 1924, Sakichi Toyoda invented the Toyoda Model G Automatic Loom. (Yes, that’s Toyoda with a D. The T came later.)
In 1933, the Automobile Department was established at the Toyoda Automatic Loom Works. That’s right: the car company was an element within the loom manufacturing company. In 1936, the first car, the AA, was completed. In 1937, the Toyota Motor Co. was established (note the T; the change was made for various reasons, including differentiating the cars from the looms).
So when the team started work on the LFA, they created the Lexus Carbon Loom was developed to weave the carbon fiber materials. Whereas typical looms have a rectangular frame, the Lexus Carbon Loom has a circular one so as to more readily provide fabric for things like wheels.
Should you be in London between now and October 29, you might go to the Design Museum, where an exhibition, “The Future Is Here,” includes carbon fiber parts and additional information about the Lexus Carbon Loom.