Slide over, Marty McFly. Lexus now has a HOVERBOARD

Steps, Swarm, Strobe and now…Slide. Lexus recently released the fourth video of its “Amazing in Motion” campaign, and it has gotten ...



Steps, Swarm, Strobe and now…Slide. Lexus recently released the fourth video of its “Amazing in Motion” campaign, and it has gotten various coteries - from technophiles to movie buffs - all titillated.

Slide features a Lexus Hoverboard that is the stuff of movie fantasies, but according to the automaker, this hovering ‘skateboard’ actually works. Yes, it’s REAL. Back in 1989 when Back to the Future II hit the theatres, we all oohed and aahed when Marty McFly jumped onto a hoverboard to evade the baddies. This scene was set in 2015. Coincidence? We think not.


According to whatever bit of information the company has released on its website, the hoverboard uses magnetic levitation technology. Permanent magnets and superconductors cooled using liquid nitrogen combine to ‘lift’ the board a few centimetres above ground, and “create the impossible”. The wisps of smoke escaping the sides of the hoverboard is not exhaust smoke, like that from our motorised vehicles; that’s the liquid nitrogen, which would actually make for an inexpensive ‘fuel’ because it’s a byproduct of steel production and quite easy to produce for commercial uses.


If you are a bit of geek, like some of us at Automology are, you’d know that this is far from new technology. The phenomenon of superconductivity – ie. zero-electrical resistance – was observed way back in 1911, and there has been ongoing research for practical applications. The reason why we do not see wider implementations is that superconductivity occurs in the extreme cold (liquid nitrogen is three times as cold as dry ice), and it is extremely difficult to maintain such temperatures for roving functions. So, in the case of the Lexus Hoverboard, when the liquid nitrogen evaporates and heats up, the entire board would just come crashing down onto the ground.

So, we are sorry to say that while the Lexus Hoverboard would make a fun little toy, don’t expect it to transport you over any significant distance; expect even less that Lexus is entering the world of flying cars. At most, the Lexus Hoverboard is just part of a highly entertaining marketing campaign.

But considering that the Slide video has racked up more than 6.8 million views since its release less than two weeks ago, we presume that A LOT of people wish that this bit of science-fiction had leaped off the silver screen into reality. Lexus’ message in the video - “there is no such thing as impossible…it’s just a matter of figuring out how” – is true, though; scientists are working on creating a superconductor that exists at room temperature, and have already seen some breakthroughs. If they can figure that out, we’ll get to see more than just hovering boards zipping around town.

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