Design Concept of the Day: Toyota ME:WE

April 24, 2013 § Leave a comment

toyota meweMais oui. French designer/architect Jean-Marie Massaud has collaborated with Toyota’s ED2 design centre to create a concept revealed in Paris today. The ME:WE EV is described as an “anti-crisis” car addressing human, economic and environmental challenges, and it looks like a fun little thing as well. It’s intended to be adaptable, innovative, low-cost to buy and run yet high-quality, and to “reflect the values of forward-thinking people rather than simply their social status”. Further philosophy behind it includes concern for pedestrians and, apparently, “addressing people’s sense of personal responsibility and commitment to good citizenship”. Most appealingly, it’s “no-excess” and no-extras, stripped-down and simple.

The mood-board stuff is backed up by some solid engineering principles, nonetheless: light weight, low cost and modularity. The car is built around a tubular aluminium structure with easily-personalised and fully-recyclable polypropene panels, and can transform between being a pick-up, convertible, off-roader and small city car: featuring in-wheel electric motors, it can run in two- or four-wheel drive modes; its rear luggage space can be extended to a load-bay rear platform, or luggage can be carried on the roof under a neoprene canopy; its rear bench seat can be folded or removed for use as a picnic seat; and even the windscreen folds down for an open-top experience.

Batteries (as in the iQ EV) are under-floor, freeing up cabin space, and the whole thing weighs just 750kg. Further nice touches include the bamboo floor and horizontal surfaces, simple single-screen instrumentation with info delivery via smartphone app, plus low-energy heaters/ventilators/air con. More details, and a full gallery of images, here. And you even get a sunny, sandy-beach French lifestyle complete with matelot jerseys…

  • A market niche where electrification can make all the difference: the tuk-tuk. Japanese start-up Terra Motors is building a relatively cheap three-wheeler in the Philippines, where there’s a plan to replace 100,000 petrol-burners by 2016. Only a 31-mile range for this one, however. More here.
  • Ford has partnered with US house-builder KB Home on its energy-efficient ZeroHouse 2.0 Concept, which features smart-scheduling for charging a C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid off-peak. The show home is on display in San Marcos, California. More here.
  • CPT is to show its 48V ‘micro-mild’ hybrid tech at an event in Vienna this week. This uses (cheap) lead-carbon battery technology and gives a 4-8% fuel economy/CO2 emissions improvements in its 1.4-litre Passat saloon demo vehicle. Said to be a low-cost solution, with the motor-generator ready for production;, the 48-volt system also includes transient torque assist, optimised fueling when idling and cruising, and kinetic energy recovery, reports Green Car Congress.
  • BMW is opening its first Future Mobility Research Lab in south-east Asia, in partnership with Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. The Lab will study and develop advanced battery materials for EVs, human-machine interfaces, and “mobility patterns and concepts” – multi-modal transport and car-sharing, plus advanced routing algorithms for commuting – with a view to the needs of the Asian market and the megacities of the region.  More detail here.
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