Mike Stevens | Feb 16, 2009

One of the concepts on display at the upcoming Melbourne Motor Show is also, in the opinion of project manager Tetsuya Kaida, a symbol for a seaweed-friendly future for the car industry.

The design of the Toyota 1/X (pronounced “one-Xth”) envisages a future made of hybrid-powered cars with a fraction of the environmental footprint of even the cleanest cars on the road today.

toyota_1-x_01

Mr Kaida said that while the 1/X – first unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show last year – uses materials such as carbon-fibre reinforced plastic, he sees a time when even these high-tech materials will be superseded by plant-based materials.

"We used light-weight carbon-fibre reinforced plastic throughout the body frame for its superior collision safety - but that material is made from oil," Mr Kaida said.

"In the future, I'm sure we will have access to new and better materials, such as those made from plants - something natural, maybe something like paper.

"In fact, I want to create such a vehicle from seaweed because Japan is surrounded by the sea. This is my dream."

Kaida believes that the 1/X forces people to redefine their perception of what it is to be environmentally considerate, and that it points the way to a more sustainable relationship for humans and the environment.

toyota_1-x_02

Interior space in the 1/X is about the same as the current model Prius, yet its overall weight – a mere 420kg – is just one-third of other vehicles in the same class.

The 1/X has a 500cc engine – one-third the size of that in the Prius, and can be charged from a regular power point.

Its designers believe a fuel economy twice as efficient as the Prius’ can be achieved by combining a plug-in hybrid powertrain with flexible fuel technology using a mixture of ethanol and petrol.

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