Lexus LS 600h Landaulet gets ready for the royal wedding

Article by Christian Andrei, on June 24, 2011

This Saturday, July 2, 2011, His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco will exchange vows with Ms. Charlene Wittstock. Lexus will be celebrating this joyous occasion by having its full hybrid LS 600h L Landaulet serve as the official Royal Wedding car. With its transparent and one-piece roof made of polycarbonate, the Royal Wedding LS 600h L comes with the brand’s very own Hybrid Drive which gives it lower emissions in terms of NOx, CO2, and even particulate emissions unlike any car with similar features.

It also offers the comfort and performance that one would expect from a flagship of Lexus. During the day of the wedding, the Royal Wedding LS 600h L Landaulet will be the one the royal couple will use to go around the Principality once the ceremony is finished. This will start from the Palace on the Rocher down going to the harbor and then up to Boulevard Albert I and eventually Sainte-Devote Church. This is where, according to tradition, the princess will be leaving her bridal bouquet to Monegasques who are waiting.

During this trip, it will be run using full zero-emission mode, or solely using electric motor power. As such, it reaffirms the environmental claim of the brand’s Hybrid Drive. Working in partnership with Brussels-based engineers from Lexus, Carat Duchatelet, celebrated coachbuilders from Belgium did the work on the advanced conversion which took more than 2,000 hours to finish. The main objective of this particular project was to make sure that while the final car would continue to have that technological superiority and high level of quality expected from a Lexus, it will remain to have the dynamic qualities, as well as the safety and performance features of the original LS 600h L.

In converting the LS 600h L to the Royal Wedding version, it started by using computer-aided design to do computation, simulations, and even 3D modeling. For example, in order to reinforce the bodyshell, there was a need to apply the newest carbon-fiber and Kevlar technology with the most up-to-date honeycomb structures. This was done in order to make sure that even if the roof and the pillars have been removed, the chassis would still have that torsional rigidity and stiffness.

In order to fabricate the parts, the composites were cured at very high temperatures. Simply put, through the use of a specially prepared oven, these components were cooked, literally, on the bare chassis. What this meant was that the original vehicle had to be dismantled completely which included removing 20,000 electronic parts, mechanical components, and even the upholstery and some features of its interior.

The re-assembly was then done under the supervision and guidance of the brand’s very own engineering team. This was to ensure that the new vehicle remained to be consistent with the original version in terms of specifications, and more importantly, performance. As previously mentioned, one highlight of the Royal Wedding LS 600h L is the roof which is transparent with a lightweight and single polycarbonate shell. It weighs 26 kg and is merely 8 mm thick. Being attached to the body using two intermediary parts, there is perfect visibility whether outside or inside the vehicle.

This is why designing and manufacturing this particular model posed a challenge as not only does it have a single piece but it has no pillars or any reinforcements. This is why the brand decided to partner with a supplier whose specialty was making similar parts but for the aerospace industry. As such, it was in France when the demountable roof was manufactured by none other one of the top transparent component-production companies in the world.

This particular company is an expert when it came to supplying the complex parts sporting high specifications and equipped in the canopies jet fighters and windshields of helicopters. Prior to starting the manufacturing of the roof, a carbon-fiber and honeycomb structure pattern was utilized in order to confirm the shape as well as it the structural integrity. It was also used to determine if the roof would fit perfectly with the body with less than 1 mm of tolerance. Once the design was completed, robotic tools were needed in order to make sure that the production was extremely precise.

These tools were also the ones that automated and machined the final canopy. During the final stage of the conversion, the re-assembly and the finishing took a team made up of 10 people that worked together with engineers from Lexus. The group worked straight for more than two weeks in order to make sure that each feature of the vehicle to be used for the royal wedding was able to meet the high levels of sophistication and quality.

One thing to note was that before the re-assembly, it was important to paint and polish it. Specifically, the Midnight Blue livery was used as a finish and was manually applied through the use of different coats of environment-friendly and bespoke water-based paint. According to Lexus Europe Vice President Andy Pfeiffenberger, the company is more than proud to offer this wonderful and full hybrid car to His Serene Highness, the Sovereign Prince of Monaco.

The company, he added, remains committed to providing sustainable and innovative mobility which complements His Serene Highness' strong interest when it comes to environmental protection and advocating sustainable development. Meanwhile, Carat Duchatelet Executive Director for Corporate Development Benoit Ceulemans explained that his company has 40 years of experience when it comes to manufacturing armored and extended vehicles suited for Royal Families, VVIPs, and even Heads of State, no matter where they may be in the world. This particular project however, he continued, is considered as a milestone as it will be the first time the company will be linked publicly to an important project and a very unforgettable event.

Press Release

Lexus LS 600h L Landaulet

A unique full hybrid Lexus LS 600h L Landaulet featuring a one-piece, transparent polycarbonate roof will serve as the official Royal Wedding car on the occasion of the marriage of His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco to Ms. Charlene Wittstock on Saturday 2nd July 2011.

Equipped with Lexus Hybrid Drive, Prince Albert's LS 600h L offers all the performance and comfort expected from a Lexus flagship, and generates significantly lower CO2, NOx and particulate emissions than any comparable car.

'Lexus is very proud to present this exceptional full hybrid vehicle to H.S.H. the Sovereign Prince of Monaco', said Andy Pfeiffenberger, Vice President of Lexus Europe. 'Our commitment to innovation and sustainable mobility at Lexus matches well with His Serene Highness' keen interest in promoting sustainable development and environmental protection.'

The state-of-the-art conversion was undertaken by renowned Belgian coachbuilders Carat Duchatelet in close collaboration with Lexus engineers based in Brussels. It took over 2000 hours to complete. The fundamental objective of the project was to ensure that the finished car maintained the levels of quality and technological sophistication inherent in every Lexus, whilst preserving all the performance, safety and dynamic attributes of the original LS 600h L.

'We have 40 years experience in making armoured and extended vehicles for Heads of State, Royal Families and VVIPs around the world', explained Benoit Ceulemans, Executive Director Corporate Development, Carat Duchatelet. 'However, this will be a milestone project for us. It is the first time we are publicly associated to such a prestigious project and memorable event.'

The conversion process began with extensive computer-aided design calculations, simulations and 3-D modelling. The reinforcement of the bodyshell required extensive applications of the very latest in honeycomb structures, Kevlar and carbon fibre technology, in order to maintain the vehicle's chassis stiffness and torsional rigidity following the removal of the roof and pillars.

Parts fabricated from composites require very high temperatures for curing. These components were literally 'cooked' onto the bare chassis in a specially prepared oven. As a result, much of the vehicle first had to be completely dismantled, involving the stripping out of some 20,000 mechanical parts, electronic components and interior features and upholstery. Re-assembly occurred under the close supervision of the Lexus engineering team, to ensure consistency with the original vehicle specifications and performance.

Painting and polishing was a key phase before re-assembly. The Royal Wedding LS 600h L is finished in a particularly elegant Midnight Blue livery, which was applied manually using several coats of a bespoke, environmentally-friendly water-based paint.

The transparent roof was a challenge both in its design, as a large single piece with no reinforcements and no pillars, and in its manufacturing, for which Lexus sought the cooperation of a supplier specialising in similar elements for the aerospace industry. The demountable roof has been built in France by one of the world's leading transparent component-production companies. This highly specialised company mainly supplies complex components of an exceptionally high specification such as helicopter windshields and jet fighter canopies.

The roof is a single, lightweight polycarbonate shell, just 8 mm thick and weighing only 26 kg. Fixed to the body of the Lexus through two intermediary parts, it will allow perfect visibility from both inside and outside the vehicle.

Before production of the transparent roof itself, a template in honeycomb structure and carbon fibre was used to validate shape, structural integrity and a perfect fit to the body of the vehicle within tolerances of less than 1 mm. With the design complete, the extreme precision of production was carried out by robotic tools, which machined the final canopy in a completely automated process.

The final conversion stage of this unique LS 600h L, re-assembly and finishing, involved a team of 10 people in conjunction with Lexus engineers, working full time for over two weeks to ensure that every aspect of the vehicle meets the highest levels of quality and sophistication.

On the day of the wedding, the Lexus LS 600h L Landaulet will be used by the royal couple to tour the Principality after the ceremony. The tour will bring them from the Palace on the Rocher down to the harbour, and then along Boulevard Albert I up to the Sainte-Devote Church where, as is the tradition, the princess will leave her bridal bouquet to the waiting Monegasques. For most of this tour, the vehicle will operate in full zero-emission mode, driving under electric-motor power alone, hereby reaffirming Lexus Hybrid Drive's environmental credentials.

With the end of the celebrations, the unique Lexus Landaulet will be displayed first at the Media Centre and subsequently at the Oceanographic Museum, where visitors will be able to view a remarkable reminder of an exceptional occasion.

Topics: lexus, lexus ls

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