Would you buy a car made from wood? 0

Would you buy a car made from wood

Your next car could be made from wood. Sound ridiculous? Probably, but if an experiment currently underway at Kyoto University goes according to plan, trees could end up playing a vital part in car construction.

The project is being conducted as a collaboration between one of Toyota’s main part suppliers and the academics at the Japanese seat of learning. They are trialling a new type of plastic that includes a form of wood pulp.

The scientists have claimed the material they’ve created is FIVE times stronger than steel, but weighs 80% less. Tests are already fairly advanced and a prototype built using these revolutionary cellulose fibres is scheduled to be completed in 2020.

At present, the material is around four times more expensive than steel and similar alloys, but it’s widely believed that this will fall, and may have dropped by 50% by 2030.

For electric cars, weight is one of the most important factors. The lighter a car is, the further range the battery will be capable of.

Masanori Matsushiro, a project manager overseeing body design at Toyota said: “Lightweighting is a constant issue for us.

“But we also have to resolve the issue of high manufacturing costs before we see an increased use of new, lighter-weight materials in mass-volume cars.”

Wood isn’t the only material being trialled as an alternative to steel; BMW’s i3 already uses a carbon fibre body shell and other premium vehicles make use of high-strength aluminium.

In the Netherlands, Dutch students have created a vehicle manufactured from sugar resin and Google’s autonomous Waymo project has patented shape-shifting bodywork to reduce the impact on pedestrians in case of a collision.

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