Toyota Urban Utility Concept
Toyota Urban Utility concept vehicle
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15th September, 2014
Inspired by a growing innovative spirit in urban areas, Toyota has
revealed the Urban Utility concept vehicle – or U2 – at a private function in San Francisco, USA.
Vehicle elements reflect the lifestyle and needs of an entrepreneurial, urban driver.
Developed by Toyota’s Calty Design Research in Newport Beach, USA, the Toyota U2 concept features a new
open architecture and purposeful materials that redefine urban utility. Designers included the ability to roll back the
roof, fold down the tailgate into a ramp and customise the interior on a versatile rail system. The concept car will be
displayed in New York, USA, on 20th-21st September to a limited audience.
“Toyota saw an opportunity for a new approach to an urban vehicle based on increasing re-urbanisation of our cities
and urban drivers’ desire for flexibility, fun and manoeuvrability,” 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.”
Bringing the concept to a community event allowed Toyota to gain feedback from a key audience.
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. Drawing on these insights, the Toyota U2
concept is a flexible, functional gadget that owners can customise 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 colours and materials to fit needs
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Toyota research showed the fast-growing small SUV segment points to a desire for greater utility but a smaller vehicle
footprint. 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,
manoeuvrability 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 under body and tool-like exterior with a customisable 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 emphasises the storage capabilities.
Highlights of the exterior include:
- 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 showing in New York, the Toyota U2 concept will return to the Calty studio in California.