Toyota has revealed a new electric city-car concept, which takes a stripped-out minimalist approach. Called the ME.WE, it’s the product of collaboration between Toyota and Jean-Marie Massaud – a French architect, inventor and designer.
Described as an “anti-excess” vehicle and an alternative to cars that are all about “passion and status”, the ME.WE comes with virtually no equipment to reduce weight and cost. The only visible technology is a single screen above the steering wheel, which shows speed, charge status and navigations instructions.
Constructed around a tubular aluminium chassis and covered in plastic panels weighing just 14kg, the entire vehicle weighs 750kg – around 20 per cent less than a conventional supermini. Bamboo is used in the floor structure and across the dash, too.
Four in-wheel electric motors provide the power and allow the ME.WE to operate in two or four-wheel-drive modes. The battery pack is located under the floor panel to lower the centre of gravity and maximise interior space.
At 3.44m long, it’s shorter than both the VW up! and Fiat 500, but there’s space for four passengers inside. The lack of boot capacity is compensated for with covered storage space on the roof, while the rear seats can slide back and forwards or be removed entirely, like the Citroen 2CV.
There are no plans to put something like the ME.WE into production anytime soon, but elements of its design, such as the lightweight and easily customisable plastic body panels, could be used on future low-cost Toyotas.