Toyota has always prided itself on being an industry leader when it comes to building eco-friendly vehicles that not only look past the current norms of today’s industry, but challenge them to address the growing need of building economical and efficient yet technologically advanced vehicles. This year, the LA Design Challenge, an annual fixture at the LA Auto Show, is looking for the best concept that addresses these specific needs; to build a lightweight car while minimizing the dependence on using natural resources.
You could say that Toyota is right at their element with this year’s competition and they’re bringing a concept vehicle that answers all of the event’s requirements.
Calling it the NORI Concept, Toyota envisioned its concept as a car that infuses cutting-edge technology with the emissions and fuel economy standards set up by the contest’s guidelines. To prove its point, Toyota built the NORI concept with a unique podular feature wherein the car’s body and its chassis are built as one instead of two separate parts, making it stronger, lighter, and aesthetically more appealing. As a supplemental energy, the NORI concept harnesses solar technology that’s captured through solar cells woven into the concept’s PODULAR, serving as energy back-up should the situation call for it. The podular body is also strengthened using ‘nori’ to create bioplastics technology while combining it with carbon fiber weave to create a sturdy body that can withstand the environment. The specific use of ‘nori’ – in Japanese, it means “seaweed” – reduces the vehicle’s weight.
Full story and press release after the jump
To build the podular forms that will eventually become the body of the NORI Concept, Toyota will build factories located near the sea, making it easier to find nori so it can be used as a bioplastic alternative source in favor of the more traditional features needed, including soy and corn.
Toyota also used partial shape insets (PSI) to serve as either shields or to expose passenger’s to the elements. The NORI concept doesn’t use any doors. Instead, the driver and the passengers would have to step over the car straight to the concept’s nodular form. Lastly, Toyota will be using a set of electric wheel motors with a removable battery pack.
Building on Toyota’s leadership role in creating eco-sensitive vehicles, the NORI concept challenges us to look ahead and create a clever vision that addresses fuel economy, emissions, green materials, new design and manufactured technology, and transforms it into an emotionally appealing design solution.
As the majority of current generation automobiles consist of a chassis covered by attached body panels, the NORI concept presents the idea that the body and chassis are one, as a PODULAR form, designed to be strong, light and beautiful. Bioplastics technology is created using “nori” (the Japanese word for seaweed) combined with a carbon fiber weave for strength. Woven into the PODULAR form are solar cells that capture and generate supplemental solar energy. As a holistic solution and new design aesthetic, NORI reduces weight and the number of parts while capturing and generating energy.
At the onset of the DESIGN process for each PODULAR form is a collaboration between designers and engineers, utilizing a “real time” design envelope to ensure the perfect balance of strength, light weight and design aesthetics. This process eliminates traditional design and engineering conflicts of form vs. function, and allows the design/engineering process to come to fruition at the same time.
The PODULAR forms are grown at factories located nearby the sea. Seaweed grows prolifically, and using it as a bioplastics source is an effort to minimalize the impact on the food chain (corn/soy etc) that has previously been used for bioplastics. The solar cells are embedded as part of the growing/manufacturing process.
PSI’s (partial shape insets) are utilized to shield or expose passengers to the elements and address vehicle regulations (such as covered wheels), while serving as a new form of personalization. The color/graphics of NORI can be changed through an electronically generated data charge sent into the surface. There are no doors: ingress/egress is achieved by stepping over and into NORI’s PODULAR form.
NORI utilizes four electric wheel motors and a removable battery pack.