Elite automakers pride themselves on the skill of their assembly line workers to create things few others can.
Lexus has taken that a step further for the people who hand-stitch the leather for the instrument panel on the redesigned 2013 ES 350 sedan.
Normally a task performed by robots, stitching the leather for the Lexus is handled by humans. But not just any seamstress can qualify.
Twelve "Takumi" experts do this job. To be certified, a worker must prove his manual dexterity by folding an origami-paper cat in less than 90 seconds with one hand. The nondominant hand, at that. It can take years to master this skill to a proper level of refinement.
At the ES 350 introduction, Lexus placed prefolded origami cats on the desks of attending journalists, as a measure of illustration.
How hard could it be? It's just six simple folds. I'm a fair guitar player, so that ability should translate into a certain digital dexterity.
I was able to perform the task with the prefolded paper, with time to spare, but that's like painting by numbers. When attempting the feat with an unfolded piece of paper, I was able to fold the cat one-handed, using the table for an assist, but the final result looked more like a crashed stealth fighter than a cat's face.
If I had applied for the stitching job, my prospects would have been all thumbs.