Toyota's created a new concept car for "urban" dwellers who like to tinker, and the result is essentially what would happen if an SUV, taxi, and the turrets from Portal accidentally made a baby.
The Urban Utility concept is a three-door vehicle with an interior that employs rails to let you change up the seating arrangement, or lock in what you're carrying. Like a lot of other cars, that means you can take out seats you don't plan to use — including the passenger seats. But you can also adjust where things go along tracks that run along the bottom and sides of the interior, and that let you move things like racks or dividers to specific spots.
For getting things in and out of this seemingly complicated interior system, the roof folds into the middle of the car, so you can add objects that are too tall to fit. The hatch back also folds down to double as a ramp, so you could load items up and into it like what you'd find on a large truck.
One curiosity is a space for tablets right on the dashboard. This doesn't replace things like your speedometer, which Toyota is depicting as an enormous compass of sorts. Instead, Toyota envisions it showing you navigation, environmental controls, or your fuel level and efficiency. In this case, that's all going through an iPad that sits smack in the center of your car.
While those concepts have been tried before individually, they're all together here. Toyota hopes that will appeal to people in the so-called Maker community who like to tinker with things. The project, which is being shown off at the World Maker Faire in New York City next weekend, came out of Toyota's Calty Design Research group in Southern California. Toyota's taking the wraps off the car in San Francisco today, and says it plans to use public feedback to fine tune the design in the event that it's actually released.
- Is that a taxi or a delivery truck? No, it's Toyota's new Urban Utility vehicle, or U-Squared.
- A side view of the U-Squared with the half of the roof open.
- The bottom hatch can extend down on the ground for loading. It's also got the rails you find on the inside of the car to secure items and storage items.
- This is the concept dashboard, with a giant, compass-like speedometer and mount for a tablet that shows other digital gauges.
- A full view at the back of the loading area. The rails that run along the sides and bottom can hold seats or cargo dividers.
- This is the configuration with just the driver seat and center console.
- The bar along the passenger side doubles as a mount for things like this tray.
- The bar can open up, allowing you to slide on various attachments.
- No, that's not a bicycle seat in the middle. It's the center console, which houses the unusual looking gear shift.