Hence, Toyota's Urban Utility concept, which will make its first public appearance at World Maker Faire in New York City on Sept. 20 and 21, aims to show how the brand can fit its ideas and products with the latest trends, particularly in urban areas in this case.
The Japanese automaker describes its concept vehicle's elements as a reflection of the "lifestyle and needs of an entrepreneurial, urban driver", as expressed through interviews with Maker Faire participants and internal Toyota market research.
Developed at Calty Design Research, Toyota’s North American design studio in Newport Beach, California, the U2 concept features a new open architecture and purposeful materials for urban utility.
For instance, designers included the ability to roll back the roof, fold down the tailgate into a ramp and customize the interior on a versatile rail system.
Kevin Hunter, president of Calty, says that the brand "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".
Adds Hunter: "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."
From the other side, bringing the concept to a Maker community event "feeds" Toyota back with ideas from a key audience in this market segment.
Says Sherry Huss, VP and co-founder of Maker Faire: "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... Leveraging the growing Maker movement and Makers’ broad sphere of influence can impact the success of consumer brands and future products."
Flexible, functional, interior
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 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.
– Versatile utility rail system (holds from baskets size to bike stands),
– Ability to fold and remove the front passenger seat,
– Fold-up rear seating,
– Unique shifter design switch for parking, drive and reverse mode,
– A selection of colors and materials (depending on needs).
Based on the Asian carmaker's research findings in the fast-growing small SUV segment, of a desire for greater utility on a smaller vehicle footprint, the Toyota U2 concept has the size of a compact car, the functionality of a compact truck and the spaciousness of a cargo van.
In the same time, the U2 concept also addresses other key urban driver priorities such as good fuel economy, maneuverability in city environments and easy loading and unloading.Urban exterior
– 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.