Developed together with French architect Jean-Marie Massaud since 2011, the Toyota ME.WE Concept was created as an “anti-crisis” vehicle that “addresses contemporary human, economic and environmental challenges”.
The ME.WE concept is constructed around a tubular aluminum chassis and covered in plastic panels (which are 100 percent recyclable) weighing just 14kg, the entire vehicle weighs 750kg – around 20 percent less than a conventional steel-built supermini.
Bamboo is used in the construction of the floor and for the cabin’s horizontal surfaces, chosen both for being a renewable resource and aesthetically pleasing. ME.WE is easy to keep clean with a simple wash, inside and out.
The Toyota ME.WE is a pick-up, convertible, off-roader and small city car in one. It appeals to a wide range of users, and has a small eco-footprint thanks to its light weight and the materials used in its construction.
ME.WE is electric-powered, using the same in-wheel motors as the Toyota i-ROAD, with batteries located under the floor, as in the iQ EV. With none of the traditional packaging restraints associated with conventional powertrains, the entire interior could be devoted to the vehicle’s occupants and luggage.
The simplicity of its design is matched by it ease of use. The in-wheel motor system means it can be operated in two or four-wheel drive, allowing it to tackle rougher terrain than a traditional car, and without the weight penalty of a 4×4 transmission system.
In the cabin priority is given to driver and passengers, so luggage can be carried on the roof beneath a fold-out, weatherproof neoprene cover. However, the rear luggage space can be extended into a platform like that found in a pick-up.
The rear bench seat is mounted on floor rails and when not in use can be folded and stored beneath the front seat. It can also be removed altogether and even used for ad-hoc picnic seating.
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 personalize the cabin environment with music and other apps, as well as controlling on-board temperature.
The heating and air conditioning are delivered by a low-energy air pump and electric seat heaters to minimize power consumption. And to achieve a cabriolet-like open air feel, all the windows can be opened, even the windscreen.
|CHASSIS & BODY|
|Chassis construction||Tubular aluminum|
|Body shell||Polyproylene panels|
|Kerb weight (kg)||750|
|ENGINE & TRANSMISSION|
|Power||4 x in-wheel electric motor|
|Heating/air conditioning||Low-consumption heat pump and electric seat heating|