Toyota’s New Urban Utility Concept Car
We were fortunate to have been invited to a private panel discussion hosted by Make Magazine in San Francisco this week for Toyota’s unveiling of their new Urban Utility concept vehicle, or U-Squared. The vehicle concept and elements reflect the lifestyle and needs of an entrepreneurial, urban driver discovered through interviews with Maker Faire participants and internal Toyota market research.
Developed by Toyota’s Calty Design Research in Newport Beach the vehicle concept features a new open architecture that redefines urban utility and will make its first public appearance at World Maker Faire in New York City on Sept. 20 and 21.
“Toyota saw an opportunity for a new approach to an urban vehicle based on increasing re-urbanization of our cities and urban drivers’ desire for flexibility, fun and maneuverability,” said Kevin Hunter president of Calty, Toyota’s North American design studio. “Calty keeps a number of projects concealed while exploring ideas and products. Revealing a project like the U2 gives people a window into the constant innovation that happens inside Toyota and our Calty studios and one possible future for urban mobility.”
Among the U.S. trends that influenced the Calty design team were a growth in entrepreneurship and Americans’ love of adventure, especially outdoor activities involving gear and equipment, (Hallelulah!). Drawing on these insights, the Toyota U2 concept is a flexible, functional gadget that owners can customize according to individual, on-the-go needs. The retractable utility bar can serve unique uses, such as holding a desk or grocery bag hooks. Side windows flip up for easy access from roadside. Other key interior highlights include:
- Versatile utility rail system configurable to hold everything from baskets to bike stands
- Ability to fold and remove the front passenger seat
- Fold-up rear seating
- Unique shifter design with intuitive switch for parking, drive and reverse mode
- Choice among a selection of colors and materials to fit needs
The Toyota U2 concept is the size of a compact car with the functionality of a compact truck and the spaciousness of a cargo van. It satisfies other key urban driver priorities including good fuel economy, maneuverability in city environments and easy loading and unloading.
An Exterior for the City
City streets call for a vehicle that can handle bumper-to-bumper traffic, potholes and tight corners. The Toyota U2 concept has an extremely durable underbody and tool-like exterior with a customizable side panel. The iconic, modern design remains playful, with details such as circular door handles and a slightly chunky proportion. The box-like design at the rear emphasizes the storage capabilities.
- Roof panels that retract open
- Rear glass that can slide into the tailgate
- Tailgate that folds down into a ramp
- Protective, replaceable ridges on tailgate
After its public reveal in New York, the Toyota U2 concept will return to the Calty studio in California. For more information about Toyota innovation, visit http://www.toyota.com/usa/operations/design-research-development.
Golin for Toyota