Lexus caps its 2015 weirdness with working ice wheels
When you have as fun-filled a year as Lexus had in 2015, you don't let it end without one last stunt. The luxury carmaker has followed up its hoverboard and cardboard IS sedan projects with an equally weird-but-compelling design: an NX crossover riding on a set of ice wheels. The special one-off gives the term "driving on ice" new meaning.
Instead of just filming weird stunts with production cars or setting obscure world records, Lexus put serious elbow grease into its publicity this year, partnering on new and unusual builds that actually work. Following that same playbook, its latest side project isn't just an icy car sculpture, it's a drivable car that happens to roll on ice.
Toyota's luxury arm says that it spent three months researching, designing and testing the ice wheels in partnership with London-based Hamilton Ice Sculptors before fitting a set to the NX. Real NX wheels and tires were laser scanned, then replicated with frozen water. Each wheel took a team of four sculptors 36 hours to make. Acrylic inserts give the wheels the strength to support the NX, and LED lights add some style.
Before unleashing its ice wheels on the street, Lexus readied them by holding the entire NX in a -22°F (-30°C) deep freeze for five days. As its story goes, the NX started up on the first attempt before rolling forward down the London road on spinning ice. It doesn't exactly freezer-burn the pavement below with speed, but even the slow, steady roll is an intriguing sight to behold. You can check it out in the video below.
While Lexus has clearly aimed its 2015 stunts at keeping its headline and YouTube viewer counts up, Lexus director Richard Balshaw ties them into the automaker's greater mission: "Projects such as our hoverboard, the origami-inspired cardboard car and now a dazzling set of fully functioning ice wheels demonstrate how we use advanced technologies and the best craftsmanship traditions to achieve outstanding results. That's not just for eye-catching one-off projects, but for the cars we deliver to our customers, too."
Hopefully it continues right into 2016.