The project was a joint effort with the Cerebral Palsy Foundation.
March is officially National Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month. Cerebral Palsy (CP) is a group of disorders that prevent the normal functioning of muscle tone and posture, affecting movement and coordination. In support of this, Lexus - better known for ultra-luxurious sedans like the LS - has teamed up with the Cerebral Palsy Foundation (CPF) and created a ride-on vehicle built for a much more noble purpose than whisking high-powered businessmen to the office. Rather, it was designed to provide enhanced mobility for a child with CP.
As part of Lexus' human-centric design philosophy, the ride-on vehicle has a number of modifications that cater to the specific needs of children with CP who often struggle to interact with their peers due to their restricted mobility. Finley Smallwood, a six-year-old child, was the appreciative recipient of the Lexus vehicle this month.
According to Rachel Byrne, CPF executive director, "people with cerebral palsy rarely get interventions and support they need at the moments they need them." Cooper Ericksen, Lexus group vice president of product planning and strategy, saw the opportunity for the brand to join forces with CPF.
"We create vehicles around the art and science of human needs," said Ericksen. "In this case, we wanted to push the envelope and explore what that might mean for a child with cerebral palsy who hasn't been able to experience the joy of mobility like other children have."
To that end, the small vehicle was developed with modifications like additional side seat padding and a five-point harness, making it more comfortable for Finley, who can find it challenging to sit for extended periods.
The car also has minimal ground clearance to make it easier for Finley to get into, along with large doors. Both a steering wheel and foot pedals pose challenges for CP sufferers, so these were substituted with an armrest joystick. Using this, Finley can more easily control the vehicle's acceleration and direction. "While these modifications will impact the life of one special child, it's also a step in opening a door for exploring the vast possibilities of human-centric design," said Ericksen.
We applaud Lexus for using its wherewithal for such a great cause, proving what's possible when automakers think outside the box. As a final, heartwarming touch, the ride-on vehicle - which even has a similar grille and headlight design to models like the RX - was painted in purple because it's Finley's favorite color. Bravo, Lexus.