By on December 17, 2012

LFA Chief Engineer Haruhiko Tanahashi says good-bye

As intimated last week, Toyota’s production of its LFA supercar is coming to an end. On Friday, LFA #500 left the assembly line at the secretive LFA Works in Toyota’s Motomachi plant. After a week of testing, the car will be delivered to its undisclosed owner.

The 500th and last LFA

The owner is most likely Japanese, because the color of the 500th LFD is whitest white, the LFA’s most popular color, especially en vogue with Japanese customers. It is also the LFA’s trickiest paint job: The base coat is covered with a layer that shines in blue and white under fluorescent light, on top of that comes an enamel coat that in turn is covered by a clear coat.

The owner of the 500thLFA also has ample cash, or at least he did before he paid the bill. His LFA is a Nürburgring Edition (as evidenced by the winglet), $70,000 more bought 11 extra horses and a nice silver-colored oil filter instead of the regulation champagne-colored part.

The autoclave. A giant pressure cooker that limits the Lexus LFA production to one per day

The LFA, went into production at the LFA Works in December 2010 on a make-to-order basis. Mainly limited by the through-put of the autoclave, where pre-preg  CFRP parts had to cure for eight hours, only one LFA per day could be produced .

One of two circular looms on the planet. 12 layers of seamless carbon fiber are woven into what will be part T3-3RH, part A-pillar, part roof support

Sadly, it will be getting very quiet at LFA Kobo, as the  LFA Works are called internally. The LFA does not have a successor, nor is anything planned “at the moment,” as we hear from Toyota’s Tokyo spokesperson Shino Yamada.

Fender being fitted to the non-monocoque LFA

Most of the 170 workers are assigned to other tasks at Motomachi. Clean room, presses, and the monster autoclave will be used to make parts to supply the 500 LFA in use, and possibly to go into new cars made by Toyota elsewhere. Last we heard, the team did bid to make the roof of car to be built in the Toyota empire. Decision unknown.

This reporter is being vacuumed to protect the LFA’s carbon fiber from filth and grime

TTAC is proud of having received unprecedented access to the LFA works. I was the first reporter who was given free roam of the facilities during series production, camera in hand.You could get into the halls of the LFA if you bought one, but your photographic equipment had to be kept outside. Automotive News’s Tokyo Correspondent Hans Greimel was, according to our knowledge, the only other reporter who was let in. He visited the LFA Works in the final months of production and is still writing his story. Look forward to it.

Different types of CFRP are used for different loads

Apart from making 500 LFA supercars, the facility gained Toyota many years of precious experience with CRFP production. Carbon fiber composite production is the new frontier of car making, and the LFA is one of the few cars with a body made mostly from CFRP, and with most of the body made from hand-laid pre-preg, the most expensive and laborious  kind of CFRP.

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36 Comments on “Sayonara, LFA...”


  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Leno, grab one while you can, collector’s item for sure!

  • avatar
    mr_muttonchops

    Huh. I always knew the production would be limited, but I always figured they’d keep it up for a bit longer. A bit of a shame, but hopefully this won’t stop future plans for Toyota to produce sports cars.

  • avatar
    Oelmotor

    Those elves at Motomachi must have something up their sleeves.

  • avatar
    Junebug

    Watching Top Gear UK do a review, I’m not so certain that this car will be that valuable in the future. It’s much more expensive than cars that perform equally or better, so what that it’s all techy. It’s STILL a Lexus, a brand that isn’t known for sports cars. Time will tell.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      In this case, any value it has is due to scarcity. If there are 501 people who are willing to pay $1M for it, then it’s worth $1M.

    • 0 avatar
      geggamoya

      JC and May drive the LFA around Wales(iirc) in the recently released dvd “The Worst Car In the History Of The World”, and it looked like they finally got it. The youtube video has been removed, though.

  • avatar
    PenguinBoy

    Kind of reminds me of a modern 2000 GT. An interesting, limited production car that was expensive for the performance offered, and that served to demonstrate Toyota’s capability.

  • avatar
    hairy

    This car has to be one of the biggest flops in recent history. The LFA lags in sales compared to similar exotic cars such as the Ferrari FF (also ~$350k) which sold its entire lot of 800 first year production cars. It generates no where near the interest or halo effect as does the GT-R for Nissan, as evidenced by http://www.google.com/trends/explore#q=lexus%20lfa%2C%20nissan%20gtr&cmpt=q.

    The biggest failure of all is that Lexus did absolutely nothing to advance the state of the art with composites. They merely caught up with 20 year old production techniques. Why not focus on ways to reduce tooling costs, autoclave usage, or the intensive manual labor required to use composites? Nothing Lexus did will filter down to their cheaper cars. BMW and Ford have the right idea, investing in manufacturing plants and techniques to reduce costs and increase usage.

    Ill give them credit, the LFA packs an incredible screamer of an engine, and I would love to take one around a track. From a corporate vantage however, The LFA looks like an utter waste of 10 years of investment.

    • 0 avatar
      Freddy M

      There are two schools of thought on whether Toyota squandered 10 years of development, or made a strategic decision to accept the LFA as a money pit designed to learn as much as possible, costs be damned.

      I think at the end of the day I’m part of that camp that believes that this car was never meant to make money (in a direct way) for Toyota. I personally admired the technical sophistication of the car and learned to improve my gag reflex at the exorbitant price tag that accompanies it.

      The only thing that personally offends me on the LFA is the AWFUL AWFUL keyhole on the door.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        @Freddy: I agree. They know very well what sells volume and what doesn’t. They could easily have done Special Edition – ABCDE like Zonda did with their car these past few years to get some more return on their investment. Rich collectors eat that crap up. But they ended it at 500.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      I don’t think we have any real idea what they learned or didn’t learn about composite production. It certainly doesn’t sound like it will filter down to affordable cars, but I hope it will.

      • 0 avatar
        hairy

        I’m sure they learned loads about the design, engineering, safety implications, etc related to integrating composites. And all of that knowledge will be useful in the future, after some other company pioneers the affordable manufacturing and production of OMC automobile components.

        The big beef I have is that you dont need to do a 500 run production car to learn what Lexus did; two prototypes and testing would have sufficed. With two prototypes, Lexus could have saved on all the hard tooling, autoclaves, looms, etc. Or, they could have made a halo car out of traditional materials that had 90% of the performance for 30% of the price, sold 10 times as many, and increased their brand recognition even further.

        Lexus missed a huge opportunity to become a leader in the incorporation of composites into mainstream automobiles. I just don’t see any long term return on investment for the LFA. There is probably a good reason that Toyota has no plans to produce a successor, and is shutting down CFRP production line.

    • 0 avatar
      tony-e30

      I work in an industry whose most experienced personnel are retiring at a rate exponentially faster than they are provided opportunities to pass that knowledge on to the next generation. Some of the large projects initiated within the industry aren’t created out of a technical need, but rather they’re created to provide that missing opportunity for senior personnel to pass knowledge on. The LFA could be a similar exercise.

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        @tony: If you don’t mind my asking, what is it you do?

        In my line of work (general commercial printing) we can’t seem to shed people fast enough. The belief is that we will all be replaced with machines and software…

      • 0 avatar
        WRohrl

        @Geo – I used to work (ran a 100 employee company) in your industry until I got out a few years ago on MY terms, on MY timeline – which is key to any career change. Printing may not be completely dying but there sure is a race to the bottom. Machines and complete automation will replace the commodity portion of the business (see 4-Over / Vistaprint, etc.) but the “custom, craftsman” aspects won’t be replaced, however they will be made so unrewarding financially that it is already difficult to find good people to replace those that either retire, die, or wake up and realize they may have other opportunities. In the end I think there will be a few very expensive boutique printers and a lot of companies struggling and killing each other off with constant price-cutting. The overseas threat seems to be diminishing at least. High-quality digital printing will start to replace some of the smaller shops, especially as formats increase to at least half-size and speeds increase.

        But yes, the knowledge base in the industry is beginning to leave, i.e. I know what I know and sorry, I expect a decent financial return in order to apply my knowledge to help someone else make money. Otherwise I will (and did) take my ball and go home. You think you can replace me with someone cheaper? Sure, go ahead, we’ll see, and then replace him with someone else when you realize he doesn’t know jack. That process can’t go on forever and it already isn’t as within a year among other things I ended up starting a print consulting company and now bill my former employer for my time/knowledge at an hourly rate-to-responsibility ratio far in excess of what I was being paid previously.

        The wacky thing is that I was able to conclusively show year after year that I was directly producing/procuring income far in excess of what my cost to the company was. No, not purely direct sales, but ability to analyze situations etc where opportunities existed and then leverage those opportunities. Nowadays, the people left there for the most part are automatons and function in a binary environment, i.e. it’s either this or that with no other options. Knowledge and experience and intelligence is leaving (our) industry and it is happening in many others as well.

      • 0 avatar
        tony-e30

        Aerospace engineering.

    • 0 avatar
      wsn

      When you say the LFA lags in sales, do you have any concrete evidence?

      Here in Canada, there are only 10 LFAs allocated. Only 1 in my city. It has a price tag of $600k CND (roughly $610k USD). It could be sold instantly, but the owner of the dealership would not sell. It’s for display purpose only.

  • avatar
    Type57SC

    The 3D weaving loom seems novel, at least for its size, and a step forward in carbon fibre. Just like racing, having projects to excite your engineering and production people, and train them on small scale but challenging projects, is generally good for the company.

    It is certainly odd that Lexus doesn’t have a large 2+2 GT around the $100k mark, but i doubt the LFA was done in place of that type of car.

    I’m not sure why Bertel is so amped about the paint. Isn’t that the same as a white pearl tri-coat available on many $20k cars?

  • avatar
    PintoFan

    “the car will be delivered to its undisclosed owner.”

    Or not.

    http://tinyurl.com/cvukvat

    $100 says it’ll wind up on Ebay on a new title and less than 10 miles, or a “used” title and less than 1000 miles, after the dealership employees got bored driving it around town. Just like the rest of them.

    • 0 avatar
      84Cressida

      Better than being a medium rare death chamber like your POS.

      • 0 avatar
        MR2turbo4evr

        Lol, a guy who calls himself Pintofan talks trash about the LFA. Thanks for making my day!

      • 0 avatar
        PintoFan

        If you want to compare another car to the LF-A, how about the Ford GT? Of course, that might be unfair, because they don’t actually have that much in common. Unlike the LF-A, the GT had an actual waiting list with real paying customers, and Ford didn’t have to resort to dumping them on Ebay in order to get rid of excess inventory. Unlike the LF-A, the GT was sold at an honest price to real enthusiasts with an appreciation for what the car meant to Ford’s legacy. Unlike the LF-A, the GT will be worth real money in 30 years, a cherished and lasting design not constructed as a vanity item for Moscow plutocrats. And unlike the LF-A, the GT was sold on its merits, not on the desperate all-expenses paid advertorials of captive internet “journalists.”

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        This might be your most hilarious idea yet. The Ford GT sold by reflecting in glory that Ford bought forties years ago from Eric Broadley’s English Lola company. I used to have a mid ’60s car magazine where they showed it testing as the Lola GT, before Ford paid to have their engine used and their name on the car. What’s worse? Toyota building a new car to their own design or Ford not having any better ideas than recycling styling from a car they bought from someone else during a forty year old marketing blitz?

      • 0 avatar
        PintoFan

        That’s nonsense. The original GT40 never would have existed without Ford’s funding or engineering expertise. Lola was essentially a subcontractor; all the major engineering was done by Ford personnel, as well as the testing.

        I know it pains you that the LF-A will be remembered as nothing but a garage ornament for the tasteless, but maybe Toyota should have left the supercars to the people who actually know what they’re doing. You know, the ones with actual successful racing heritage.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    When a dull “supercar” that very few care about ends production, does anyone care or notice?

    Only Toyota/Lexus could manage to make something with this cars specs so comprehensively uninteresting.

    • 0 avatar
      84Cressida

      And yet here you are, seemingly without a care in the world about this car, yet blabbing on about how such a “failure” it is just like the rest of the intimdated Toyota/Lexus bashers.

      Oh and trust me, GM could easily have made a terrible super car.

  • avatar
    juicy sushi

    I certainly don’t find it uninteresting. And I find the criticism amusing. No one who has driven it has come back complaining about the car. They’ve all loved it. Look at what Clarkson just said recently when he got to drive it. Or what EVO said when they compared it to the much faster Ferrari 599GTO. The Lexus is a very special car which will not appeal to everyone, but which has been put together with a level of care that knows no equal.

    I think it will suffer in the collector’s market just by being Japanese, and so getting written off by the usual crowd, but I somehow don’t see many of these hitting the market in the same way the Veyron has.

  • avatar
    hifi

    I won’t miss this thing. It’s hideus and overhyped.

  • avatar
    84Cressida

    It’s pretty hilarious reading the negative comments about this car from nut jobs who hate it simply because of who manufactured it. “Oh nobody cares about this hideous waste of money and resources, Toyota should’ve done this instead”.

    You know Lexus built a great car when the same people who bitch at them for not building “exciting” cars (who would never buy a Lexus anyway and in real life drive a 35 year old Pinto or a 2001 Cavalier) then bitch at them for building an excitment machine that is beloved by every single person that drives one and the owners who bought one.

    • 0 avatar
      MR2turbo4evr

      People who talk trash about the LFA or Lexus in general have either never been in one, don’t have any appreciation for good craftsmanship, or both. I recenlty bought a 2000 LS400 (used to own a ’88 Cressida by the way). I can’t get over how well this car is put together. Every surface is soft to the touch, even the glovebox. The materials are superb and the attention to detail is amazing. This is a $60k car, I can’t even fathom the craftsmanship on a $400k LFA. To me, the LFA is just that. Not about 0-60 times, top speed, horsepower numbers, etc. It’s about manufacturing perfection.

    • 0 avatar
      PintoFan

      Because when a supposedly “sold-out” new supercar is readily available on the internet, on a new title, with less than 100 miles, for anybody who cares to blow $400k on a tacky display of nouveau-riche tastelessness, that really screams “beloved” to me. Or maybe just “unsellable boat anchor.”

      You can feel free to stop shilling for Toyota whenever you want. They don’t care that you drive a 28 year old example of their particular brand of gangster capitalism.

  • avatar
    mikey

    You are talking about a Toyota?…right?


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