Toyota's US design studio looks to the future with Baby Lunar Cruiser
Toyota's CALTY Design Research studio celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, having been responsible for "everything from the 1978 Toyota Celica to the 2024 Toyota Tacoma." The futuristic Baby Lunar Cruiser concept has been created to mark the occasion.
CALTY Design Research quietly opened its doors in El Segundo, California, in 1973 and operated for five years before expanding into new premises at Newport Beach, where it came up with the design for the second-generation Celica.
After building scale models of mid-engined performance sports concepts, the studio settled into its own groove and produced designs for production vehicles such as the 1995 Tacoma and Avalon, 1997 Prius, 2001 Highlander and RAV4, and the Camry NASCAR in 2013, 2015 and 2018. The concepts continued to roll out too, including an oddball called the Scion NYC.
Toyota is currently working on the development of a pressurized rover named the Lunar Cruiser in collaboration with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), and this has inspired the CALTY team to come up with the Baby Lunar Cruiser concept.
Said to blend the "futuristic capabilities of an interplanetary exploration vehicle" with the rugged design language of the original FJ40 Land Cruiser 4x4, the concept EV is controlled by dual joysticks and gets around via in-wheel motors.
Those wheels are wrapped in airless tires. There's plenty of glass for all-around visibility, and the augmented-reality dashboard appears to show live feeds from "a full array of cameras and LiDAR/radar sensors." The interior can be configured to suit the mission via Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment (MOLLE) panels, and the seating is adjustable too. Loading at the rear is helped by a split tailgait.
Naturally, since this is a concept only, such things as performance specs and detailed build info are lacking, but the CALTY team has gone on to make its ideas real in the past, so maybe we'll see a working model roll out in the near future.