We've been speculating a lot recently about why we think plastic will be manufacturer's first choice for new cars in the future.
Well, the proof is in the pudding, and the pudding is the new Toyota i-Road, though, it's not actually a car. Technically, it's a trike, and the three wheeled Electric Vehicle (EV) is yet to hit British shores. It has landed in France, however, and on October 1st will be used as part of an incredible new scheme. The city in question is Grenoble, and they have invested in 35 of the i-Roads, and 35 of the COMS, the 4 wheeled sister vehicle (still not a car, dubbed a 'quadricycle').
I'm going to be realistic when I say that this car is only
practical if you are part of the scheme, but it's still a step forward. The scheme is akin to 'Boris Bikes'; there are 27 charging stations in the city of Grenoble, and you can pick up an i-Road at one and drop it off at another. They have a battery range of 31 miles (hence the city use) and a top speed of 28mph (more than sufficient for city centres). We love them because the designer clearly had vehicle plastic recycling in mind, fitting a plastic chassis to an aluminium frame, to keep strength high and weight low. The i-Road weighs just 300KG, and has a tandem-seat system, so your passenger has a nice view of your head rest. Peculiarly, the four-wheeled sister vehicle is a one-seater.
Note: The i-Road is expected to cost over £10,000, but as yet, is unpriced.
From every review I've read online, from journalists to car enthusiasts, anyone who drives this car gets out with a smile on their face. I remember hearing the same sentiment when the Twizy was released, but the Twizy isn't half as handsome as this beauty.
I'm sure that's due in part to the constantly improving technology, with designers creating a unique style of wheel arch that allows the car to slide through tiny gaps. It also has a partially clear door, and whilst this does nothing for anything, it just looks futuristic, and was installed with young gadget-obsessed consumers in mind.
The pilot 'car-sharing' city scheme took place in Toyota (funnily enough), Japan, and was a brilliant success, leading the project to come to Europe and be installed in various places over the next three years. The French are calling it 'Citélib by Ha:Mo', nope, I've no clue either. However, talking about the new project Takeshi Uchiyamada, Chairman of Toyota Motor Corporation, said: “Urban mobility solutions will be a key growth area for Toyota in the future. We are very excited to be working alongside the people of Grenoble in solving urban traffic problems.”
Get this, an Arizona based car manufacturer called Local Motors stunned onlookers as they 3D-printed a car at a live convention! It was at the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) in Chicago just last week. The car is called the Strati, and is believed to be the world's first 3D-printed car, one word: awesome. It also looks pretty cool, like an eco-friendly movie villain type get-around.
The car is made up of only 40 parts, which is outrageous if you think about it; modern cars have thousands of parts! It took 44 hours to print the whole thing, but I'm lead to believe that assembly was pretty straight forward. I wonder if they even needed to print the instructions? The car is great for vehicle plastic recycling, as the amount of components has often been cited as an issue at the recycling end. It's not 100% carbon fibre and plastic, as they had to install an engine (and a few other bits), and what do you know? They took the engine from a Twizy! The Twizy gets mentioned quite a lot in EV discussion.
The CEO of Local Motors, John B. Rogers Jr said “This brand-new process disrupts the manufacturing status quo, changes the consumer experience and proves that a car can be born in an entirely different way,” said Local MotorsCEO John B. Rogers, Jr. Since the Strati was selected from hundreds of choices in an open-entry design opportunity, whether to actually produce and sell the car is up for discussion. We think they should press ahead, and set a great example for designing cars with vehicle plastic recycling being considered!
(photo credit: inhabitat