Toyota 1/X concept car features carbon, natural fibers

The 926-lb Toyota 1/X hybrid uses carbon fiber throughout the body frame and kenaf and ramie fiber-reinforced composites in the roof.

The Toyota 1/X concept vehicle made its North American debut at the 2008 Chicago Auto Show, with carbon fiber composites throughout the frame.

The 926-lb/421-kg 1/X features an aerodynamic ultra-lightweight design that maintains the interior space of the Toyota Prius hybrid and is approximately one-third the weight of the Prius. Pronounced 1/Xth, the name is derived from its vehicle mass, fuel consumption and emissions output, each totaling a fraction of that of other vehicles in its class.

The 1/X roof is produced from a bioplastic made from environmentally responsible material derived from kenaf and ramie plants. The result is a roof that improves heat insulation, emits less carbon dioxide, increases the amount of light entering the cabin, and reducing noise.

On the inside, the 1/X employs four lightweight seats made of polyester fiber that is knitted three-dimensionally for added comfort. The material functions like a spring or damper that helps create a cushion-like feel for all occupants.

The ultra-lightweight stature of the 1/X also helps contribute to a fuel efficiency target that would double that of the Prius and allow the 1/X to operate with an ultra-small hybrid powertrain located under the rear seat. The system combines a home-rechargeable plug-in hybrid unit with a small 500cc 0.5-liter flexible-fuel engine that is 1/4th of the total weight of the Prius powertrain. The hybrid plug-in concept is designed to accommodate a lithium-ion battery that would be rechargeable at home. The result is a vehicle that could travel more than 600 miles/966 km on a small 4-gallon tank of fuel and achieving the acceleration performance that is equivalent to the Prius.