TRANSPORTATION TUESDAY: Toyota's Lightweight 1/X Concept
It seems like every other day now that a car company announces a new concept that is redefining what it means to be an environmentally friendly vehicle. However, when Toyota says it, we tend to take a closer look. It was Toyota, after all, that created the Prius, the standard to which all subsequent hybrid vehicles are measured. The Toyota 1/x concept, which recently appeared at the Chicago Auto Show, is Toyota’s latest attempt at redefining what a green vehicle means. And to them, it is all about making it weigh less.
The name 1/X refers to the reduced amount of weight, emissions and fuel consumption that the vehicle has compared to that of other similar vehicles in its class. It is made from a carbon fiber reinforced plastic frame, that is quite strong but much lighter than conventional framing system. The shape of the vehicle is a result of a desire by Toyota’s designers to create a smaller space, that would have a feeling of openness. It has the same amount of space as a Prius, yet weighs about a third.
The roof is transparent, heat and noise insulating, and made from a bio-plastic derived from kenaf and ramie plants. The seats of the vehicle are extremely light, yet, according to Toyota, quite comfortable. The entire front of the vehicle is clad in an LED lighting system that provides a soft glow, illuminating the entire front surface of the vehicle. And, due to the light weight of the vehicle, the 1/X’s wheels are smaller and thinner than those of a regular vehicle. They have even reduced the amount of water splashed by the tires when traveling on wet surface.
The 1/x is meant to operate at a fuel efficiency that is double that of the Prius. It comes with a plug-in hybrid unit and a small fuel-engine. This design, combined with the lightness of the car means that it can travel for over 600 miles on a four-gallon tank of fuel. Overall, a pretty impressive technology package from Toyota.
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