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Toyota 1/X

Published: 25 October 2007

What is the point of this contraption exactly?

Toyota has a habit of building mind boggling concept cars that fire up the public imagination and then deliver forgettable production dross. The 1/X may just change that. It is rumoured to showcase developments that could point towards the next Prius.

So there's a chance of the Prius looking interesting?

Yeah, and being lighter, too. After all, the point of the 1/X project was to build an ultra light car with the cabin space of a Prius but about 1/3 of the bulk. The scales are tipped at 420kg. Toyota went right back to basics and used new materials, specs and processes.

Like what?

The roof section is made of kenaf and ramie fibres, together with lactic-acid polymer bioplastic. Visible plant fibres give it an unusual rustic finish, especially as some parts let light filter through. The body is made from strong lightweight CFRP (carbonfibre reinforced plastic) and the seats are made from a complex web of netting.

Sounds eco but cool eco. What about the engine?

The 1/X is a plug-in hybrid (PHV) built around a teeny 500cc engine. It accelerates like a normal hybrid car, but can recharge on household current. Toyota also reckon it's a flex fuel vehicle, which means you can refuel on bioethanol and/or petrol.

The front and rear light clusters are awesome…

They are also the only complicated looking part of the 1/X. It's seriously utilitarian, with ribbed floors, ears (where wing mirrors would be. For hearing the outside world - seriously), thin tyres (it's light) and the powertrain(s) under the rear seats.