At this point, either because we’re truly spooked by the spectre of climate change or still feeling guilty about that scene in Planet Earth where the polar bear can’t find a solid ice floe, many of us are coming to terms with the fact that we need to consume less. We applaud green architecture, we scorn wasteful packaging, and we know to look for something with good gas mileage when we’re buying a new car. But the stuff you put in your car is only part of the equation. The ME.WE is designed to be built with as little environmental impact as possible.
The concept addresses a side of the issue you don’t hear about as much–how green our cars can be not just on the road, but in the factory. The ME.WE is a proposal for how we should rethink auto manufacturing in the context of our limited resources.
The car, designed by French architect and designer Jean-Marie Massaud in collaboration with Toyota, is billed as an “anti-excess” vehicle. It doesn’t come with any high-end options or upgrade packages. It’s completely electric, with a lightweight tubular aluminum frame and 100% recyclable polypropylene panels, each of which only weigh 14 kilograms. The target weight for the entire ride is 750 kilograms, around 20% less than a traditional car of the same size.
The ME.WE was shaped with versatility in mind–small enough to navigate the city but spacious enough for a family. The roof’s designed to hold cargo, protected by a fold-out, weatherproof cover; the interior’s decked out with sustainably-harvested bamboo. The dashboard was kept deliberately simple, off-loading much of the controls to the driver’s smartphone.
Would the ME.WE crumple like a recyclable milk jug in the event of a fender bender? Who knows. But the point it makes is an important one. Your ecological footprint isn’t just about what you consume–it includes everything that went into the stuff you use to consume, too. And while the earliest stage of a product’s life cycle is often invisible to us, it isn’t one we can afford to ignore.