Toyota develops ultralight electric concept car
Jeddah, June 9, 2013
Japanese automaker Toyota has developed an ultra light electric concept car which aims to reduce CO2 emissions and is touted as a pickup, convertible, off-roader and small city car all in one.
Architectural designer Jean-Marie Massaud and Toyota European Design & Development (ED2) pooled their resources to develop the innovative electric concept car Toyota Me.We.
The car has its motors integrated into its wheels and batteries under the floor, while the body is formed from aluminium structure clad in panels formed from expanded polypropylene, a lightweight, robust and recyclable material.
The Toyota Me.We is light and resilient with a tubular aluminium structure that carries interchangeable body panels such as doors, wings, bonnet, bumpers, etc., which are made of expanded polypropylene, an ultra-resilient, ultra-light thermoplastic polymer.
Thus, the weight of Me.We could be only 750 kg – a figure that represents a minimum 20 per cent saving compared to a traditional B-segment car with a steel body. The curb weight saving is mainly due to the difference in mass between body panels made of polypropylene (only 14 kg) and those made in steel.
Depending on its original use and intended secondary use, expanded polypropylene can be 100 per cent recycled. The same is true of aluminium, whilst the bamboo used for the floor and horizontal surfaces has been selected for its aesthetic qualities and its highly renewable character.
On board, passengers always take priority over luggage, which can be carried on the roof - protected by a neoprene cover. This cover is housed within the front portion of the roof and can be unrolled to cover securely objects that are placed on the roof. Additionally, the rear luggage space can be extended and thus transformed into a platform like that of a pickup.
Mounted on rails in the floor, the rear bench-seat can be folded and stored under the front seat. Alternatively, the removable bench seating system can also be used for a picnic on the grass.
Instrumentation is limited to a single screen mounted above the steering wheel that indicates the vehicle speed, the level of battery charge, journey information and navigation instructions delivered via a smartphone. The smartphone itself is mounted below the single screen and provides occupants the ability to create their own personal environment - communication, music and other apps- as well as controlling the temperature of the cabin air.
Heating and air conditioning is delivered by a low consumption heat air pump coupled with electric seat heaters to minimise power consumption.
“Today, our lives and needs require more adaptability, simplicity and lightness. The car of today should be seen as a personal mobility solution that can deliver more,” said Massaud.
Toyota is represented in Saudi Arabia by Jeddah-based Abdul Latif Jameel (ALJ), a major automotive dealership. On average ALJ sells more than 350,000 Toyota vehicles a year, a statement said. – TradeArabia News Service
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