The most experienced and revered members of the Lexus production lines — the black belts of of the car-building world — are known as takumi. These are the masters of their respective trades, be it paint or engine-assembly or wood veneer, and one of the tests of takumi's manual dexterity, says Lexus, is the making of a folded-paper cat using only the non-dominant hand. It's an impressive little party trick, to be sure, and that kind of fine motor skill, applied to the task of building a car, can yield impressive results.

To celebrate the takumi (and that origami kitty), Lexus engaged a team of five designers and modellers from UK-based LaserCut Works and Scales and Models, supported by the packaging-material maker DS Smith, to build the Origami Car, a full-size, almost-fully-functional replica of the IS sport sedan.

The car is comprised of a steel and aluminium frame and 1,700 laser-cut sheets of corrugated cardboard — fully recyclable, of course. It features a complete interior, working doors, functioning headlights and rolling wheels. There's even an electric motor in there. Yes, the cardboard IS is more than just the box it came in: It's a driveable electric car. (Just steer clear of rain clouds.)

Yes, the cardboard IS is more than just the box it came in: It's a driveable electric car. (Just steer clear of rain clouds.)

Working from digital 3D model of the IS, the team divided the project into sections — main body, dashboard, seats, wheels and so on. Each section was then digitally rendered as 10mm-thick “slices” and that data was then fed into a laser cutter. Each of the car's 1,700 pieces got its own sequential reference number, which the team followed as they assembled the layers using a water-based wood glue — a process that took three months to complete.

The team admits there were some false starts. “The seats took a few attempts to get just right and the wheels required a lot of refining," said Ruben Marcos, Scales and Models Company founder and director. "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.”

Lexus will officially unveil the cardboard IS on 8 October at the Grand Designs Live home-improvement show at the NEC in Birmingham, UK.

A present, there are no plans for production.

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