ME.WE seeks to resolve a number of real-life contradictions, not through reinvention of what a car is, but by taking a different approach that is simpler, more appropriate and realistic – an alternative to cars that are about “passion and status”. The goal was do more and create better while using less. By reducing the pool of resources and constraints, it was possible to increase capability, quality and pleasure.
Light and resilient: ME.WE has a tubular aluminium structure, on to which light and hard-wearing polypropylene panels are fitted.
Individual and standard: the moulded panels are made using a cost-efficient standard production system, but they are easy to personalise.
Freedom and responsibility: 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 and WE: the concept’s name expresses its simultaneous concern for personal well-being (ME) and that of others (WE).
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 lightweight construction using aluminium and polypropylene panels helps keep the car’s weight down to a target 750kg, about 20 per cent less than a conventional steel-built supermini. The body panels, which are 100 per cent recyclable, weight just 14kg.
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.
ME.WE is an intelligent response to the ecological threats posed by mass production and the increasing number of cars on the world’s roads, as it is made from materials that help reduce the energy it consumes and the CO2 and harmful emissions it produces.
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 personalise 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 minimise power consumption. And to achieve a cabriolet-like open air feel, all the windows can be opened, even the windscreen.
Outline technical specifications
|CHASSIS & BODY|
|Chassis construction||Tubular aluminium|
|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|