Toyota Motor Corp. (Tokyo, Japan) unveiled its new ES3 concept vehicle at the 2001 Tokyo Auto Show. The new ES3 is powered by a combination of a 1.4-liter, common rail, turbo diesel engine, and an ultracapacitor-based, regenerative braking/auto-start system.
The ES3 uses an all-aluminum body frame and Toyota super olefin polymer (TSOP) body panels and interior parts, as well integrating a new biodegradable plastic made from sweet potatoes with fibers derived from flax and bamboo. According to Toyota, the ES3 contains virtually no lead in its paint, lighting system and wiring harness.
The entire vehicle weighs a mere 1,616lbs (733kg), measures 11.5ft x 5.3ft x 4.7ft, gets 88 miles to the gallon and seats four passengers. The heart of the ES3's drive system is a direct-injection, 1.4-turbo diesel mated to Toyota's belt-drive CVT - similar to that used in the Prius. Instead of relying on secondary batteries for electric energy storage, the ES3 recaptures its braking energy in an ultracapacitor, which is then used to power the engine starter.
Toyota has not announced any plans to put the vehicle into commercial production.