March 2012 | Newsletter #2

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Lexus “Meister”

Lexus MiesterThere’s another “Meister” on the Lexus GS development line. His name is Shuichi Ozaki, and for him, job success isn’t measured on a clipboard. It’s measured by the width of a smile. His job is to identify, safeguard, and optimize the mix of emotions that create the uniquely human appeal of the new GS—and all Lexus vehicles. The concept of stitching a sense of human feeling into the established Lexus tapestry of luxury and performance is a fascinating one. It starts with the recognition of a car’s ability to inspire human beings. For Ozaki, that inspiration comes from depth. Not the depth of paint, or the depth of a seat cushion, but the depth of human emotion. “A car is an industrial product assembled from parts and technologies,” he says. “That structure gives it depth. Woven into a Lexus is an extra layer of hand craftsmanship, with each individual or team trying to craft parts—all of them masterpieces—that reflect the creator’s passion. Passion has depth. It has the ability to move people. My task is to add another layer of passion by evaluating and fine-tuning the entire vehicle—by feeling.” This extra investment in emotion has been applied to the humblest of parts. Take the driver footrest. Rather than the usual flat surface, it’s shaped in a gradual curve. “It was clear to us that the curved form was the most natural human fit,” says Ozaki. “But finding the best curve was a very sensitive balance that even high-tech devices couldn’t measure. We had to use our own five senses.” Also, consider the steering wheel. On the road, Ozaki’s attention to detail translates into a feeling that you’re always exactly the right distance away from the wheel, no matter how you hold it. There’s no feeling of being “hemmed in,” as Ozaki puts it. These GS sensations are subtle— and that’s exactly how Ozaki likes it. He wants these emotional enhancements to be felt on a near-subliminal level. “If someone says ‘wow, look what’s been achieved,’ I see that as a problem,” he explains with a smile. “When the driver grips the steering wheel made with these great materials—premium leather, wood, or bamboo—the comfortable feeling should flow up from the hands and into the mind. That should give rise to a sense of satis­faction and excitement, and a heightened sense of confidence in having made the right buying choice. All that should happen without the driver noticing.”

Our Last Event

Firstly I’d like to say thank you, to everyone who came along to our last gathering at Soljans Vineyard and Winery! It was fantastic to have so many like minded Lexus owners all together. Also I’d like to say well done to Marilyn for winning our raffle, I’m sure you’ll enjoy the prize.

I had some great feedback and suggestions on and after the day which is extremely helpful, after all this is your club! Any further feedback will be gratefully accepted.

Our next gathering will be held at the end of next month and every eight weeks after that, if there’s any good places we can go see please let me know! In addition to that if you or someone you know owns/operates a venue then get in touch and we could be coming to you next!

Lexus Club Event

3D Carbon Loom

Carbon LoomIgnition keys make dreams come alive. They unlock dynamic electrical systems, dramatic engines, and—if you’re lucky—unforgettable driving experiences. There’s a particular key, how­ever, that is more special than most—the one from the Lexus LFA, and not just because it fires up a V10 engine to 9,000 rpm.

No, this particular key is special for another reason: it’s made from carbon fibre, the wonder material that’s normally found in the no-compromises aerospace industry, including the first commercial space planes, Spaceship One and Spaceship Two. If you’ve followed the LFA over the past year, you’ve no doubt heard carbon fibre this, or carbon fibre that—somehow it’s supposed to help make the supercar go faster, which it most definitely does. But its use in the Lexus LFA, from the key to the chassis, is bigger than just one model: carbon fibre’s use in a Lexus showcases what’s to come from a vehicle manufacturer that, once again, is seeing— no, sculpting—the future before anyone else.

This time, it’s happening in the production-auto materials department, materials that a future Lexus of yours might share with space planes and prototype aircrafts. What makes carbon fibre so special is its utterly amazing composition. In the pecking order of artificial materials, carbon fibre holds high rank, with an appropriately cosmic range of physical properties. At one end of the carbon spectrum is the diamond, one of the hardest, most dense substances in nature. In its softer state, carbon is the second most abundant element in the human body, light enough to use in lifesaving skin grafts. Hard and soft. Dense but light. Paradoxes, yes, but there it is: somewhere in between rare gemstones and living tissue we find carbon fibre, and that’s its advantage.

The material’s diamond toughness but lighter weight make it a must-have in aerospace and military applications, and its softer, organic aspects make it something you can build with—if you do it right. Which is exactly what Lexus is doing. Lexus essentially built its own laser-controlled circular loom—one of only two in the world—that weaves a fabric from carbon fibre yarn (the yarn itself is made by spin­ning together pure carbon filaments, each about 10 times thinner than a human hair). This fabric is blended with a number of high-grade plastic resins to form carbon fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP) sheets. Right now, Lexus is turning those CFRP sheets into the production LFA’s struc­tural components (and, of course, the supercar’s unique key).

Much of the LFA’s main cabin frame is made from hand-laid pre-preg CFRP, where the carbon fibre sheets have been infused with a heat-setting resin powder before moulding. Carbon fibre is definitely not the accountant’s way to build a chassis. It’s the engineer’s way. Creating vehicles with this remarkable polymer is a highly exacting and expensive process. The materi­als are costly and the moulding takes time, but the payoff—and inherent value—is a stronger, lighter, top-performing innovation. And here’s the thing: because Lexus can now do much of its carbon fibre processing in-house, the material is “primed” for future mass production in other models. To Lexus, that’s reason enough to pursue its potential. In other words, it’s not just about building an advanced supercar—it’s also about that future Lexus model you’ll one day see sitting in your driveway.

Sponsored By
Lexus of North Shore
North Shore Toyota
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