Having invested so much money into facilities for the manufacturing of carbon fiber, Toyota has been searching for new applications for the material, now that the LFA supercar is no longer being built. It was expected that this would mean more carbon fiber in the sportier new models which Lexus is bringing out, but a concept which was shown at the Tokyo Auto Salon suggests otherwise. According to Motor Authority, Toyota turned up to the event with a version of the Mark X sporting a carbon fiber roof. The Mark X (pronounced “ex”, and not “ten”) is a Japan-only model, but is not particularly remarkable in normal form and is basically just a regular family sedan. There is a sport model, but even this isn’t exactly an M3.
The concept is called the Mark X G Sport, and the carbon fiber which replaces the regular steel roof cuts thirteen pounds off of the weight of the car and moves the center of gravity down by and eighth of an inch. The benefits of this in terms of fuel economy and/or handling surely won’t be able to outweigh the still very high cost of the material, but the purpose of the concept seems to be to demonstrate to the public the extent to which Toyota is examining every avenue. Being both stronger and lighter than steel, carbon fiber is a common material in performance vehicles, but the kind of mainstream adoption that would lead to carbon fiber body components on mainstream cars remains cost prohibitive. Progress continues to be made in this direction, but don’t expect to find carbon fiber Camrys on dealer lots anytime soon.