It’s a city car, convertible, off-roader and a pick-up, and displays the latest in car design innovation – could the Toyota Me.We be the car of the future?
Unveiled at Le Rendez-vous Toyota in Paris in 2013, the Toyota Me.We concept is described by its creators, designer and architect Jean-Marie Massaud and the Toyota ED2 design studio as as ‘anti-excess’ vehicle, with innovative use of materials, engineering and technology.
It has a tubular aluminium structure, onto which lightweight moulded polypropylene body panels are fitted. These are hard-wearing for durability and ease of maintenance, while the material can act as a shock absorber in the event of a collision.
Toyota ME.WE – clever thinking
Using the same in-wheel electric motors as the Toyota i-ROAD concept means the Me.We has the capability to switch from two-wheel drive to four-wheel drive to cover challenging terrain, while removing the normal constraints that a traditional 4×4 power train brings. This also means that entire interior can be devoted either to passengers or to cargo-carrying duty.
But the clever ideas don’t stop there – the rear bench can be folded and stowed under the front seats or removed completely and used as outdoor picnic seating. Additional storage is provided with a fold-out, weatherproof neoprene cover on the roof and a extendable rear deck that turns the car into a pick-up.
Bamboo was chosen for use on the floor and for the cabin’s horizontal surfaces, as it’s both a renewable resource and aesthetically pleasing. Toyota Me.We is easy to keep clean with a simple wash, inside and out.
The simplicity of the design is also evident in the instrumentation, which comprises a single screen above the steering wheel which displays vehicle speed, battery charge, journey information and navigation instructions, delivered via a smartphone. The phone itself is mounted below the screen so the driver can personalise the cabin environment with music and other apps, as well as controlling on-board temperature.
Heating and air conditioning are delivered by a low-energy air pump and electric seat heaters to minimise power consumption, and to achieve a cabriolet-like open air feel, all the windows can be opened – even the windscreen.
The lightweight construction using aluminium and polypropylene panels helps keep the car’s weight down to a target 750kg, about 20 per cent lower than a conventional steel-built supermini. The body panels, which are 100 per cent recyclable, weight just 14kg.
Toyota Me.We – the idea
The idea behind the concept was to combine intelligent, logical thinking with a passion to create a car that’s more economical, adaptable and suitable for modern life. Me.We also moves away from the motor industry’s tradition for excess and intends to reflect the values of forward-thinking people rather than simply their social status.
The result is car that takes a modern, global view of travel and forms part of a wider view on how to adapt to the environmental challenges that will shape the future of personal mobility. It is a no-extras package, conceived as an “anti-excess” vehicle. In short, the Toyota Me.We represents the transition from the culture of “more” to the culture of “better”.
The concept’s name expresses a simultaneous concern for the individual – Me – and for others – We.
Me.We is an intelligent response to the ecological threats posed by mass production and the increasing number of cars on the world’s roads, as it is made from materials that help reduce the energy it consumes and the CO2 and harmful emissions it produces.
Length (mm): 3,440
Width (mm): 1,750
Height (mm): 1,600
Chassis construction – tubular aluminium
Body shell – polypropylene panels
Kerb weight (kg) – 750
Power – 4x in-wheel electric motor
Battery location – underfloor
Heating / air-conditioning – low consumption heat pump and electric seat heating