Toyota’s Simple Car
One of the more clever cars ever developed is the Chrysler CCV, which goes back to 1997. There were various explanations of the acronym. One is “China Concept Vehicle,” as this plastic-bodied car was created with emerging markets in mind, and back then, China was emerging not dominant, as it is now.
The clever part of this 1,200-lb. car is that there were four pieces for the thermoplastic body. Ken Mack, who was program management executive of Chrysler Liberty & Technical Affairs back then, told us that had the car been made of steel, it would have required 80 stampings.
Yes, in addition to the tubular steel frame that was adhesively bonded and bolted to the four thermoplastic moldings (there were two outers and two inners), there is a simple interior. The powertrain consisted of a four-speed manual transmission, starter, alternator, air cleaner, and a two-cylinder, 25-hp engine developed by Briggs & Stratton.
Remember: this was a car for emerging markets.
So far as we know, it never went anywhere.
But it came to mind when we read about a vehicle that Toyota Motor Corp. developed to display at the International Tokyo Toy Show 2013. Yes, toy show.
Called the “Camatte57s,” it is a car that is 118 in. long, 56.6 in. wide, 39 in. wide, and has a 70.8 in. wheelbase. It seats three. It is powered by an electric motor.
The “57” in the name comes from the fact that its body consists of 57 panels.
The objective of the car is to bring parents and kids “closer together as they work in collaboration on building their ideal car.”
The accelerator and brake pedals are adjustable so that the car could be used for purposes of training kids to drive.
Not as simple as the CCV, the Camatte57s does have some potential for a future vehicle.
There is a lot of discussion about how 3D printing/rapid prototyping/additive manufacturing is revolutionizing manufacturing, including automotive manufacturing.
A problem with plastics and steel structures is a difference in the coefficient of expansion. Some material modifications may ameliorate that problem.
We're not going to make the case that moving away from plastic body panels caused the ultimate demise of Saturn. But if you take away the front and rear fascias, it is somewhat difficult to come up with cars that have a significant use of polymers for exterior body panels. Here are some notable ones.