Automotive

Toyota unveils Maker Faire-inspired Urban Utility concept vehicle

Toyota unveils Maker Faire-ins...
Toyota's new Maker-inspired U2 concept vehicle
Toyota's new Maker-inspired U2 concept vehicle
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The Urban Utility concept vehicle's rear panel windows pivot up and out of the way
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The Urban Utility concept vehicle's rear panel windows pivot up and out of the way
The U2's tailgate borrows versatility aspects from wheelchair access vehicles by folding down and creating a ramp where bikes or Maker gear can be transported or stored
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The U2's tailgate borrows versatility aspects from wheelchair access vehicles by folding down and creating a ramp where bikes or Maker gear can be transported or stored
The driver’s area features a minimalist digital dashboard and a shifter design that looks like a containment tube from any number of sci-fi movies
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The driver’s area features a minimalist digital dashboard and a shifter design that looks like a containment tube from any number of sci-fi movies
A retractable utility bar on the passenger side has the flexibility to support a desk, laptop or grocery bag hooks
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A retractable utility bar on the passenger side has the flexibility to support a desk, laptop or grocery bag hooks
The space in the back of the U2 can be increased further by flipping the rear seat up and out of the way or removing the forward passenger seat altogether
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The space in the back of the U2 can be increased further by flipping the rear seat up and out of the way or removing the forward passenger seat altogether
The rear window can be retracted into the tailgate which can then be used as a ramp to load Maker equipment, bikes or gear
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The rear window can be retracted into the tailgate which can then be used as a ramp to load Maker equipment, bikes or gear
Retractable roof panels slide forward, allowing access to the open air or storage height to be increased
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Retractable roof panels slide forward, allowing access to the open air or storage height to be increased
The headliner area can be transformed to hold surfboards, hold removable storage trays or be configured with elastic storage straps
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The headliner area can be transformed to hold surfboards, hold removable storage trays or be configured with elastic storage straps
The Urban Utility concept's interior is all about flexibility and customization
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The Urban Utility concept's interior is all about flexibility and customization
Toyota's new Maker-inspired U2 concept vehicle
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Toyota's new Maker-inspired U2 concept vehicle
View gallery - 10 images

Maker Faires are not only places for do-it-yourselfers, innovators and inventors to share their latest and greatest creations with each other, but are also hugely popular with the general public. The Bay Area Maker Faire a few months back, for example, attracted 1,100 exhibitors and 130,000 visitors. Now Toyota is looking to capitalize on the buzz surrounding the Maker movement with a new Urban Utility concept vehicle called the U2.

Unveiled at a private event in San Francisco, the Urban Utility concept vehicle (U2) is about the size of a compact car but boasts the functionality of a compact truck. It was developed by Toyota’s Calty Design Research division out of Newport Beach in California and is based upon an open architecture concept.

The oddly-shaped/proportioned U2 looks to have borrowed design influences from a food truck, commercial van, Nissan Pathfinder and a Honda Element. Aside from the unconventional design aspects, this versatile concept does have some interesting multi-tasking tricks up its sleeve.

According to Toyota, the U2 is designed to "reflect the lifestyle and needs of the entrepreneurial, urban driver." Retractable roof panels slide forward, allowing access to the open air or storage height to be increased. And like a food truck, the rear panel windows can pivot up and out of the way. The tailgate borrows from a wheelchair access vehicles by folding down, creating a ramp where bikes can be transported or stored.

Inside, the U2 puts on an impressive show where everything appears to have multiple purposes and functionality. The customizable interior has been configured by Calty to meet the needs of both inner city entrepreneurs and outdoor types who need to transport gear and equipment.

A retractable utility bar on the passenger side has the flexibility to support a desk, laptop or grocery bag hooks
A retractable utility bar on the passenger side has the flexibility to support a desk, laptop or grocery bag hooks

A retractable utility bar on the passenger side has the flexibility to support a desk, laptop or grocery bag hooks. Space can be increased further by removing the passenger seat altogether. A configurable rail system in the rear can be set up to hold bikes, baskets, etc. while the rear seat can be folded up and out of the way.

The driver’s area features a minimalist digital dashboard and a shifter design that looks like a containment tube from any number of sci-fi movies. But according to Calty, the odd shifter actually features an intuitive switch to assist with gear selections.

"As more products are developed expressly to appeal to Makers and their deep appreciation of design esthetic combined with open architecture and practical utility, we expect to see more trusted brands like Toyota take an unconventional approach to not only product development but their marketing and launch strategies," said Sherry Huss, VP and co-founder of Maker Faire. "Leveraging the growing Maker movement and Makers’ broad sphere of influence can impact the success of consumer brands and future products."

Toyota’s Urban Utility concept vehicle will make its first public appearance on September 20 at the World Maker Faire in New York.

Source: Toyota

View gallery - 10 images
5 comments
5 comments
Nairda
“…borrowed design influences from a food truck, commercial van, Nissan Pathfinder and a Honda Element.”, “…reflect the lifestyle and needs of the entrepreneurial, urban driver.”, “…And like a food truck, the rear panel windows can pivot up and out of the way”,
Code for: Qualified ex-factory worker with no prospect for employment, as all jobs are overseas, is reduced to selling trinkets and junk food on the side of the road “everything appears to have multiple purposes and functionality”, “…passenger side has the flexibility to support a desk, laptop or grocery bag hooks”
Code for: Will be living in his car
Welcome to our new world.
Mel Tisdale
If ever a vehicle were intended to be the basis for a camper-van, this one surely is it.
martinkopplow
Well, finally a vehicle I just might consider buying.
I strongly disagree with Nairda on this: I'm not gonna live in it, for sure, and am hopefully not going to be unemployed, it's just that I'm so much fed up with all the useless SUV wannabes and chromed over-gadgetted sedans. They only embody yesterdays dreams and just don't deliver enough real world usability for their money.
holdenmidfield
Totally agree with martinkopplow, this is the first practical vehicle I’ve coveted in ages. Please make this available to regular people at a reasonable price; if Toyota or Scion need to scrimp on finish for more ruggedness, so much the better. It’s about time that car makers get over thinking about transportation devices as ego mirrors. All of that wasted labor, horsepower and shinny paint, for what? We don’t want to drag our easy-chairs around with us, we want a serviceable, adaptable and economical device that lets us do useful things; the rest is just so much BS. It's time someone put actual "utility" back into our vehicles.
Nairda
Re: martinkopplow
Urban Utility vehicles are not a substitute for an SUV. Their low ground clearance and lack of 4wd means they are bitumen bound.
If most people idea of an SUV is a people carrier with raised suspension then so be it, but to me an SUV is a gap vehicle that provides some mild off road capability.
On urban utility concepts, most examples I've seen on the web to date hint at mobile work platforms, like converted vans with a few essential mod-cons, but certainly not a camper van. I stand by my original comments.