Leave it to the Japanese to combine sustainable living and fabulous design into one innovative bamboo car! Japan has been experimenting with methods to incorporate bamboo into the production of cars. The result is not just an eco-friendly car, but one that is also easy on the eyes.
It’s no surprise that bamboo is the ideal candidate for the job: Its strength, durability, and flexibility make the material easy to work with. As well, as a type of grass, bamboo is the fastest growing ‘woody’ plant on earth. It’s no wonder the bamboo trend has spread to all different aspects of life around the world. It’s contagious, and good for the planet!
Two types of cars have resulted from Japan’s experimentation with bamboo vehicles: the BamGoo and the Meguru.
The first, called the BamGoo, is an electric car with an all-bamboo body. Invented by researchers at the Kyoto University in Japan, this car was developed as a single-seat, 60-kilogram, electric car that can run for 30 miles on a single charge. Unfortunately, some have questioned the sturdiness of a 60-kg bamboo car, as its strength is a fraction of steel and aluminum, which are commonly used in car body construction. They wonder if it’s safe to be driving around in a vehicle that weighs as much as a single grown person. On top of that, some say 30 miles isn’t really a lot to work with.
To see what the BamGoo looks like, visit http://www.ecofriend.com/entry/eco-cars-bamgoo-a-bamboo-car-that-runs-on-electricity/.
The second is called the Meguru (Japanese for “to move”). This three-wheeled, electric car is made of traditional materials, such as bamboo (flooring) and paper (folding fans for the doors), for the purpose of sustainability. It is designed to be used as a taxi, and seats two passengers, on a couch, behind the driver, in the front. Unlike the BamGoo, the result of university research, the Meguru was developed mainly by Yodogawa, a metalworking firm, and Kinki Knives Industries, a blade making company. The prototype was designed distinctly with Japanese styling in mind, with the cooperation of Kyoto craftspeople. This car uses a lithium ion battery that takes approximately two hours to charge on a household power supply. It can travel about 25 miles on a single charge, and can be driven at a top speed of about 25 miles per hour.
Because the Meguru was developed under the precepts of business, the firms involved in its production plan to mass-produce it and sell it for less than $10,000.
See for yourself at http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-20005629-1.html.
These zero-emission cars both make creative use of bamboo, although one focuses on function and the other on form. The use of bamboo for cars is a novelty, but history has seen bamboo being used for many other purposes worldwide. The fact that it is an eco-friendly and sustainable material makes it that much more appealing to both ‘green’ and non-‘green’ consumers alike. After all, we all want to help out our environment where we can.