TOKYO -- Toyota Motor Corp. has struggled to fill the void at the secretive workshop in Japan where the Lexus LFA was assembled ever since the last $375,000 sports car rolled off a line in December 2012.
Now, it finally has landed a new product, one just as niche and high profile: Toyota’s new Mirai hydrogen fuel cell sedan.
The backlot LFA Works at Toyota’s Motomachi assembly plant in Toyota City has been tasked with hand building the limited-run car partly because of its craftsmanship and attention to detail.
And also because the Mirai, with its dedicated platform and hydrogen-powered drivetrain replete with mammoth fuel tanks, is better built by hand than in Toyota’s ultra-efficient factories.
In fact, production is so limited -- to just 700 vehicles in the first year -- that Toyota is already warning of delivery delays.
Toyota now has 200 orders for the car, and people ordering one today will have to wait until next summer to get theirs, said Masamoto Maekawa, executive vice president for domestic sales.
“Each unit is carefully built with utmost care. So therefore, the production volume might be limited,” Maekawa said. “During the initial stages, delivery time might be delayed. The 200 orders are mostly from government and corporate fleets.”
Toyota is building each car to order, not en masse, partly because it wants to prudently match output to demand and not overproduce, said Yoshikazu Tanaka, chief engineer of the Mirai and former chief engineer for the Prius plug-in hybrid.
The Mirai’s drivetrain and other components are manufactured at Toyota’s Honsha plant in Toyota City, and the car is assembled at the nearby Motomachi plant, in the same workshop that made exactly just 500 Lexus LFA V10 sports cars from 2010 to 2012.
Since then, Toyota has toyed with different projects there.