Monday, 29 September 2014 17:00

Toyota Releases the Urban Utility (U2) Concept Car

Toyota revealed the Urban Utility concept vehicle – or U2 – on September 10 at a private panel discussion hosted by Make: magazine in San Francisco. The car design reflects the growing need for innovation in urban areas, which was discovered through interviews with Maker Faire participants and internal Toyota market research.

The Toyota U2 concept, developed by Toyota's Calty Design Research in Newport Beach, CA, features a new, open architecture and purposeful materials. This vehicle sports a roof that can be rolled back, a foldable tailgate that transforms into a ramp, and a customized interior.

The concept car made 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."

Bringing the concept to a Maker community event allowed Toyota to gain feedback from a key audience.

"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."Customizable Interior
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:

· Utility rail system that can hold anything from a basket to bike stands
· Ability to fold and remove the front passenger seat
· Fold-up rear seating
· Shifter design with switch for parking, drive and reverse modeAn Exterior for the City

The Toyota U2 concept has an extremely durable underbody and tool-like exterior with a customizable side panel. The box-like design at the rear emphasizes 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