A new concept -- the ME.WE – has recently been unveiled by Toyota. The ME.WE, which is designed to be an 'anti-excess' vehicle’, was built with the cooperation of French architect Jean-Marie Massaud. Toyota said that the principle behind this model was to “do more and create better while using less.” Toyota describes this concept as a city car, convertible, pick-up and 4x4 in one package.
It has a weight of only 750kg due to the use of a tubular aluminium chassis with interchangeable polypropylene body panels. These panels actually weigh just 14kg. The ME.WE concept uses a design of in-wheel electric motors similar to the one used by the i-ROAD concept at the Geneva Motor Show.
The ME.WE has four wheels while the i-ROAD has three so this means that the ME.WE is offered in 4WD. And by using electric motors, buyers don’t have to deal with the complexity and weight of an all-wheel-drive transmission. The simple, ecologically-conscious design extends to its interior. The cabin's horizontal surfaces use bamboo from renewable sources.
Furthermore, passengers get more space since the batteries are positioned under the floor. The instrument panel displays the speed, sat-nav direction, and battery speed. The luggage is placed on the roof under a fold-out, weatherproof cover.
To ensure that the battery doesn’t run out quickly, the air conditioning and seat heaters of the ME.WEs are supplied by a low-energy air pump. Proving further that the ME.WE is indeed four cars in one, Toyota achieved a convertible effect by lowering all of the windows, which include the windscreen.
With the number of vehicles on the roads still increasing and the continued mass production of such, the threat to the environment is all too real. For the ME.WE, the response is clearly intelligent. This model is composed of materials that help lower the energy needed and thus reduce any potential harmful emissions or even CO2 emissions.
On the interior, it is clear that the priority of the cabin is focused not just on the driver but even on the passengers. The reason is that it allows the luggage to be placed on the roof and under the weatherproof and fold-out neoprene cover. In addition, the space allotted for the rear luggage can be extended to become a platform, much like those seen in a pick-up.
Meanwhile, the bench seat in the rear has been mounted on the vehicle’s floor rails and because of this it can be folded and then stored under the seat in the front. Then there is the option to completely remove it so that it can be used for other purposes such as impromptu picnic seating. In creating the floor, and even the horizontal surfaces of the cabin, the company decided to go for bamboo as the main material.
Bamboo was chosen because it looks good to look at, but more importantly it is a renewable resource. As such, all that’s needed to do to clean to exterior and the interior of the ME.WE is a simple wash. While the design is indeed simple, this is completed with how easy it is to use. The in-wheel motor system for instance, can be controlled using either a two-wheel drive or a four-wheel drive.
This allows it to take on a rougher environment compared to standard vehicles but without experiencing any of the weight penalty that is present in a 4×4 transmission system.