Toyota is going green in a literal sense, hoping that a seaweed-based bioplastic will be the wave of the future for its vehicles’ bodies.
The seaweed-based car would likely build on Toyota’s 1/X concept car, a plug-in hybrid that weighs 926 pounds and has a carbon-fiber body, which Toyota is now showing at the Melbourne International Auto Show. The company hopes to replace the oil-based carbon fiber now used in its hybrid models with a seaweed-based bioplastic, an increasingly common material, Toyota says.
“We used lightweight carbon-fiber reinforced plastic throughout the body and frame for its superior collision safety,” said project manager Tetsuya Kaida of the 1/X. “But that material is made from oil. In the future, I’m sure we’ll have access to new and better materials, such as those made from plants, something natural, maybe something like paper. In fact, I want to create such a vehicle from seaweed because Japan is surrounded by the sea.”
Although Toyota predicts it will be at least 10 years before cars with bioplastic bodies hit the market, plant-based plastics derived from everything from potatoes to sugar beets are already used in everyday items like cell phones, laptops and automotive fuel lines.
Click HERE to see a photo of the 1/X and to read more.