Squirrels develop a taste for Toyotas

Toyota Aygo

A motorist from south London has suffered extensive damage to his brand new Toyota Aygo – at the hands of ravenous squirrels.

Having owned the city runabout for less than a week, Croydon resident Tony Steeles returned to his car to find the aerial had been chewed off, rubber trim gnawed away and the car's oxygen sensor damaged.

Weirdly, no other cars parked on the same street as the stricken Aygo were affected, leading to theories that the furry critters are attracted to the new eco-friendly, plant-based plastics used by Toyota in the construction of the car.

Much of the car's materials – everything from seat cushions to boot liners – is now made from plastic derived from castor oil, after development by Toyota's research and development division.

The supplying dealer, Jemca Croydon, initially argued that there was no link between the plastics and the squirrel attacks, Auto Express reports. However, it paid for repairs before eventually swapping Mr Steeles' car for a larger Yaris.

A Toyota spokesman told Auto Express: "We have very few complaints of this occurring in UK. It is known that this issue can occur to plastic parts regardless of whether they are derived from plant material or not. Toyota continues to utilise 'bio-plastics' for a number of applications in its cars, due to the benefit it has in lowering the carbon impact of production."

The problem is unlikely to go away, with more and more manufacturers turning to plant-sourced materials to reduce the environmental impact of their vehicles. Last year Ford announced that it was working with food producer Heinz to investigate the benefits of using tomato fibres in vehicle plastics.

Mr Steeles has since moved his new car into a garage.