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A strong yen might have killed off Lexus’s LFA successor already

Until they saw the LFA, nobody was expecting Lexus to build a proper supercar. And at no point was anyone at Toyota expecting it to turn a profit. But the LFA actually ended up losing money in the kinds of quantities that could have ruined a smaller automaker. But this wasn’t due to anything like poor sales, as even with a $375,000 price tag, Lexus sold every one of the 500 units it built. No, it was a couple other big factors that cost Toyota a fortune with the LFA, according to Automotive News. The first  reason is, perhaps  the most obvious: Midway through development Lexus abandoned the idea of an aluminum body in favor of one made of carbon fiber. Not only did this mean throwing out components, which it had already spent money on, but it also required the building of a whole new facility to manufacture the carbon fiber.

The other factor was an economic one. When the LFA got the green light for development in 2005, the exchange rate was 118 yen to the dollar. But by the time production had actually started, the yen had grown to 89 to the dollar, and would later even rise as high as 75 to the dollar before settling in at the current 85. This approximately 30 percent shift in exchange rates effectively multiplied the losses that the Japanese-built LFA was already going to incur. It is this second factor which an anonymous source at Toyota identified as the reason why there is no successor to the LFA in the works. The obvious tragedy (and irony) of all this is that Toyota has already spent a fortune on a state-of-the-art carbon fiber manufacturing plant. Lexus is already hard at work adding a greater degree of sportiness to its model range in an effort to capitalize on the image boost  the LFA has bestowed the brand, and this is likely to include the utilization of carbon fiber. Specifically, the upcoming next-gen IS-F and all-new LF-LC will probably get a healthy dose of the lightweight material.