Yes, it has plastic wheels, but it's no toy.

The Smart Forvision is the answer to one of the toughest questions facing electric carmakers: how to get the most out of the batteries that power them?

The concept is a collaboration with automotive supplier BASF that employs a number of cutting edge and futuristic technologies to increase the energy efficiency of the tiny little electric car by 20 percent, while giving a possible peek at the shape of the next generation of the two-seater that will be on the road in a couple of years.

At the top of the list, and the car, are transparent solar cells that utilize light-activated organic dyes to generate electricity to power the Forvision's multimedia and climate control systems, even in low light. They also act as light-emitting diodes and can illuminate both the cabin and exterior of the car.

Along with the lightweight plastic wheels, body panels are made from carbon fiber reinforced epoxy resins that are 50 percent ligher than steel, and a lightweight seating foam, which is upholstered in a heated e-textile that reduces the need to use the less-efficient cabin heating system. Even when you do turn it on, infared-reflective "heat shielding" on the windows helps to keep the interior cool in bright sunshine, as does a special metallic-look paint embedded with glass flakes.

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The cabin itself is a futuristic take on the simple, economical design of the current Smart Fortwo Electric Drive, with oval shapes contrasting with the complex polygons that make up the exterior.

Far from production ready, the Forvision, which debuts at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September, does hint at the types of technologies on the way as fuel economy and emissions standards become more stringent in the coming years.

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