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Bamboozled: The MA uses a futuristic combination of bamboo, aluminum and carbon-fibre.

Ford's chief of design J Mays reveals a car made of bamboo

19 Nov 2002

Steel? Sure. Aluminium? Makes sense. Carbon-fibre? Why not. But building a car using bamboo?That's right, Ford worldwide design chief J Mays has unveiled a wacky concept car in Los Angeles that features a bamboo deck and is designed to be assembled at home from a kit of parts.

The car, called "MA", was revealed at an exhibition celebrating 22 years of his automotive design work, called "Retrofuturism: The Car Design of J Mays".

The name MA relates to the Asian philosophy of "the space between". The philosophy refers to a kind of threshold where two concepts can exist in a mutually beneficial relationship. As a car, the MA is meant to represent the same idea, occupying a space between emotional and rational, art and science.

"The MA, with its architectural, minimalist appearance, poses what an automotive aesthetic might look like in the future," said Mr Mays.

"This car is hard to pin down - and that's what the MA is all about. It's about proposing solutions that are not obvious, that are between our traditional visions for a car." Designed totally on a computer, the MA uses a futuristic combination of materials: bamboo, aluminum and carbon-fibre. The car has no welds. Instead, 364 titanium bolts hold the MA together.

So why bamboo? Environmental concerns are the key here as it is a regenerative grass that grows back every five years.

Only a few parts are painted. There are no hydraulic fluids and none of the industrial adhesives typically used in automobiles, making the MA more than 96 per cent recyclable.

The MA concept uses a zero emission, low-speed electric engine that has virtually no environmental impact. However, the car could also be outfitted with a small conventional petrol engine.

The MA is targeted at younger customers looking for new interpretations of an automobile. The MA's low-slung, aerodynamic wedge shape and mid-engine balance conjure up images of a two-seat, neighborhood sports car.

Instead of being produced in a plant, the vehicle comes in a more than 500-piece kit, ready for assembly. At the exhibit, the MA will be displayed both as a completed car and as a kit of individual pieces ready for assembly.

"This would be a great hobby vehicle," said Mr Mays. "You could put it together in your garage at home with your son or daughter." Since joining Ford in October 1997, Mr Mays has completed the development of several new models including the 2002 Ford Thunderbird, Ford Forty-Nine concept car and the Ford GT, which all take their inspiration from classic models of the past.

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