Toyota’s “Revolution” Manager Mixes Cars, Nature and Fantasy

“We wanted this car to be in harmony with the environment and human beings. This is about the Way of the Car, much like a tea ceremony or flower arrangement.”

Tetsuya Kaida
Manager of Toyota’s “Business Revolution Corporate Value Project

Toyota’s Tetsuya Kaida has a dream job—literally. As the creator and manager of the company’s “Business Revolution Corporate Value Project” at company headquarters in Japan, he dreams up vehicle concepts that integrate car design, global lifestyle trends, Japanese ancient art and culture, fantasy and nature.

Kaida created the project in January 2007 (after working for Toyota for nearly 14 years), and almost immediately started talking about making cars out of unconventional materials, like seaweed. “In the future, I’m sure we will have access to new and better materials, such as those made from plants…In fact, I want to create such a vehicle from seaweed because Japan is surrounded by the sea. This is my dream.”

Kaida was speaking about seaweed cars again this week at the Melbourne International Motor Show, where he discussed a potential plant-based version of the company’s 1/X (pronounced one-Xth)— a Prius-looking plug-in hybrid concept design, which uses a super-light body, 500cc gas-powered engine, and lithium ion batteries. He says such a car could be in showrooms within 15 years.

That’s just one of many of Kaida’s dreams, based on a string of futuristic concept models.

Take the Wheel, Grasshopper

Toyota took inspiration from the tall Yakusugi cypress tree for its RIN vehicle—a kind of meditation chamber on wheels revealed at the 2007 Tokyo Auto Show. To blend in with its surroundings, the vehicle has a transparent floor, and huge windows and doors that slide open like Japanese screens. Green glass filters ultraviolet and infrared light. Seats are designed to maintain good back posture and there’s an oxygen-level conditioner and humidifier. The dashboard meter even “aligns with the driver’s psychological state” as part of something Toyota calls a “mood-training steering control.”

Toyota Hi-CT plug-in hybrid truck

The husky Toyota Hi-CT plug-in hybrid truck.

Toyota also revealed the Hi-CT, plug-in hybrid mini-truck at the 2007 Tokyo Show. The name stands for “Hi Ride City Truck.” The visual design was reportedly inspired by the form of a gorilla.

Connecting Technology and Environment

Toyota I-Real concept

The Toyota I-Real concept people-mover was used as inspiration for new fashion designs.

Last September, Kaida collaborated with a team of Chicago-based fashion designers to produce clothing based on the company’s I-Real concept—an armchair on wheels capable of 20 miles per hour. Four young designers were selected for the project, and then flown to Japan to interact with the I-Real engineering team and to learn about Japanese culture. One of their stops was to soak up the serenity of the 1,000-year-old Atsuta Shrine in Nagoya.

“The fashions are marvelous,” said Mr. Kaida. “They capture the interconnectivity of man to his environment and the essence of technology for the sake of human betterment.”

According to Kaida, the core philosophy of the 1/X and other nature-inspired Toyota concept vehicles is the idea of “bunsoo” or living within one’s means. “Look at cars on the street. They look arrogant, overbearing and noisy. We wanted this car to be in harmony with the environment and human beings.” He added, “This is about the Way of the Car, much like a tea ceremony or flower arrangement.”

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  • Sefa

    Very helpful articles! Thanks.

  • kuttan

    Excellent vision!

  • Boom Boom

    Absolutely nutters.

  • Old Man Crowder

    “Manager, Business Revolution Corporate Value Project”

    Everybody needs a title, I guess.

    How is it that Toyota doesn’t need a bailout? When you’ve got shiny-suit, pie-in-the-sky thinkers on your team like this guy, you’re obviously not wasting money!

  • Paul Beerkens

    Yes, how can a company survive without a “Global Warming Does Not Exist” head in the oil well guy ?

  • Thanate

    There are so beautiful and good for the environment.

  • Samie

    Guess when your número uno you can do whatever you want!
    I would love to send Mr. Kaida a memo that reads -please focus on completing and producing the Prius Plug-In first not seaweed cars or other funny concepts. Sometimes I think car companies get ahead of themselves a bit too much….Don’t quote me but GM did this kind of stuff for years and who knows probably came up with concepts that may have been similar to today’s full sized hybrids twenty/thirty years ago.

    Anyways lookout for the I-Real “armchair on wheels” at your local retirement home 🙂 20 MPH Wow!

  • Less NOx

    I know bamboo is stronger than the same weight of steel….but seaweed? Maybe he should be looking at using the seaweed to create ethanol or something instead.

    As for the “truck”, I can haul a lot more crap in my Prius than that thing. The I-Real looks like a sit-down Segway. Just the thing for an obese society.

    I agree w/ Samie: Hurry up with the plug-ins.

  • Bryce

    well, atleast I now know where those cute button noses come from.

  • OISWiki

    Brothers whatever we say today, electric cars a.k.a. EVs will be the future; the problems with batteries and power production are fading away. Renewable energy is the sole future of planet earth – a place where every source of fossil fuel and other non-renewable energy is diminishing very fast. Sun powered nature yesterday, sun powers nature today, sun will power civilization tomorrow.

  • Mild Bill

    British TV Show Top Gear drove the I-Real people mover and found it to look like a wheel chair but run quickly at speed. When you choose to go fast the wheels extend and the body lower to the ground. The wheels tilt when you corner! Looks like it would be fun to drive…

  • Rachael

    thanks for the information

  • Antoine

    Bet that suit is made of some novel fabric!

  • nto

    thanks for your information

  • Allison parris

    It allows car shoppers to compare the fuel efficiency, fuel cost, greenhouse gas emissions, and other pollutants of hybrids versus conventional thanks for sharing

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