Meet the Japanese car made from wood pulp.
While the production process of batteries, as well as the chassis, bodywork, and interior, is still far from clean, electric cars are great for the local environment. With that in mind, it's the chassis, body, and interior that Japan's Ministry of Environment is tackling with its concept car. We've talked about nanofiber as a material that could be used in cars before, but this is a whole new level.
Sustainability is the keyword for the Nanocellulose Vehicle (NCV), and it's the result of 22 Japanese organizations working together that includes research groups and universities. Cellulose nanofiber (NCF) is derived from plant materials, including wood pulp and even forestry and agricultural waste. It's also 80% lighter than steel, but five times stronger.
NCF is also adaptable and highly manipulatable to the point it can replace metal, plastic, and glass. According to the scientists involved, the use of CNF in car-production can result in a stronger and lighter car as well as being eco-friendly and recyclable. The result is that by using CNF for the bodywork, interior, and part of the chassis, the NCV Project has developed a car that weighs 16 percent less than conventional models in the same vehicle size class. On top of that, the production process cranks out considerably fewer carbon emissions than traditional manufacturing.
You'd expect a Japanese car project based around being environmentally friendly to be cutesy looking. However, the car that the project is showing rates well on our badass scale. There's an Acura NSX vibe going on, but the NCV is its own thing. There's no detail on the powertrain, and that's not the point here, but given how light it is, it won't take a big battery to get decent range and performance. Inside, it looks even better with wood as the main material rather than as fake-looking pieces of trim.
We won't be seeing production cars made out of NCF anytime soon, but it'll be interesting to see if it can compete with carbon-fiber in strength, lightness, and cost.