Cool Runnings: Lexus produces car with tires made of ice

Cool Runnings: Lexus produces car with tires made of ice
Luxury carmaker Lexus has produced a set of exclusively ice tires. While it’s highly unlikely the product or concept will ever hit the open market, the manufacturer said it was an opportunity to showcase cutting edge technology.

The car was given a spin round the streets of London, where the special wheels were made for the vehicle.

Lexus wanted to find out whether ice could be used to replace conventional alloy and rubber.

The process was time consuming, with four ice sculptors working on each wheel, taking 36 hours to complete each one. The ice was made from softened water from a moving flow, to make sure it was perfectly clear once taken from the freezer.

“Logistically and technically, it’s up there with one of the hardest things I’ve had to do,” sculptor Jack Hackney said on the company’s website.

The manufacturer spent three months on researching and testing the ice tires. The team used Japanese steel chisels and shaping tools and even the tires’ tread patterns were reproduced.

To ensure they didn’t melt when put on the car, the automobile was kept in a deep freeze for five days at -30°C.

“Creating Amazing is what Lexus is about. 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,” said Richard Balshaw, a director at Lexus.

It is highly unlikely this novelty technology will ever take off, due to the impracticalities of using ice tires, given their brittleness on uneven roads, not to mention fluctuations in outdoor temperatures.

In August, Lexus launched a video of a rider mastering its long-awaited hoverboard - a souped-up skateboard that hovers over the ground just like the sci-fi version in ‘Back to the Future’.

“Everything I knew about skating went out the window,” said Ross McGouran, the hoverboard test rider.

The board which weighs about 11.5kg is powered with magnets and liquid nitrogen. It’s constructed of natural bamboo and Lexus came up with SLIDE as the brand name.

“Like all Lexus design, the board's features a balance of crafted details, modern materials and technical innovation. Inspired by classic skateboarding and Lexus design principles, the result is the perfect balance of the natural and high tech,” says Lexus on its website.