Lexus on Ice: How the Lexus NX ice wheels were made
Driving on ice is usually avoided at all costs, but for our latest project inspired by Lexus' Creating Amazing ethos, we took the concept and turn it around - what if the tyres were ice, rather than the road surface?
With winter fast approaching, the wheels were put in motion to create a unique, one-off Lexus NX hybrid in a collaboration between Lexus UK and the expert sculptors at Hamilton Ice Sculptors. The aim was to create, not only an amazing piece of art, but push the boundaries of engineering to do something that had never been attempted before.
Just as every Lexus vehicle benefits from the presence and influence of Lexus' highly-skilled 'Takumi' craftsmen, the ice-tyre NX would require similar levels of skill and attention to detail to achieve the perfect end result, while simultaneously employing modern, cutting-edge techniques to ensure consistency, quality and reliability.
Lexus on Ice: NX Ice Wheels
The Lexus hallmarks of expert design, sublime style, and supreme craftsmanship have driven our ethos of Creating Amazing for years, both in our production vehicles and our concepts. For our latest project, we put a team master craftsmen to the test as we tackled our coolest concept yet: the ice-tyre Lexus NX.
Driving on four perfectly-finished, hand-sculpted tyres made from optically perfect, crystal-clear ice, the Lexus NX emerged from its own test of craftsmanship and quality - a five-day deep freeze at -30 degrees Centigrade that left it clad in a thick layer of ice.
Taking three months from start to finish, the ice-tyre Lexus NX is the product of a collaboration between Lexus UK and the ice-sculpting experts at Hamilton Ice Sculptors. The challenge was two-fold: how to recreate the Lexus five-twin-spoke alloy wheel and its Yokohama winter tyre with incredible precision, while also making a wheel and tyre that would support the NX's 2.2-tonne mass.
Like the highly-trained Lexus 'takumi', Hamilton Ice Sculptors combine generations of experience using traditional ice-sculpting methods with the latest technology to design and produce their works of art. Employing advanced techniques like laser-scanning, three-dimensional computer-aided design (CAD), and multi-axis machining equipment, they could produce consistent wheel and tyre combinations ready for hand-finishing with traditional tools and techniques.
With the ice tyres ready and the NX suitably chilled in its icy chamber, the moment of truth saw the wheels and ice tyres mounted onto the frozen Lexus hybrid (which started first time, of course) ready for its first attempt at driving on ice. Part engineering, part art, this unique project came together to prove that anything is possible with the right combination of desire, skill and dedication.