Toyota's Prius hybrid purports to be a real green machine, though if comments by a Toyota manager are to be taken seriously it could be replaced in years to come by a car made of seaweed.
Tetsuya Kaida was commenting on the massive gains in lightness and fuel economy of Toyota's 1/X concept car when he alluded to the fact that plastics of the future may well be made up of kelp: "In the future, I'm sure we will have access to new and better materials, such as those made from plants, something natural, maybe something like paper. In fact, I want to create such a vehicle from seaweed because Japan is surrounded by the sea."
The 1/X is named to illustrate that it weighs a fraction and uses only a fraction of fuel in comparison to conventional cars. Although the concept, displayed for the first time at the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show, was constructed in carbon fibre, it is thought that Toyota has big plans for bio-plastics.
Bio-plastics are already in production and it's an industry that's tipped to rocket upwards in the next decade, though experts predict that the 'seaweed car' is at least 10 years away.