At a private event hosted by Make: magazine in San Francisco, Toyota unveiled a ridiculously ugly concept vehicle which is actually quite desirable in many ways. The Toyota Urban Utility Concept, or U2 for short, is a vehicle designed for DIY enthusiasts, creators, entrepreneurial types, designers and artists. Basically anyone who might have need for a small, versatile van.
The Toyota U2 concept was designed at the company’s Calty Design Research facility in Newport Beach, California. Before putting pen to paper the designers gathered feedback from Maker Faire participants, who are exactly the sort of people the concept is designed to appeal to.
In order to elevate the Toyota Urban Utility U2 concept over say, a normal light cargo van, the designers have fitted it with several novel features. Firstly the roof can be rolled back allowing tall or awkward items to be carried, secondly the tailgate can be lowered into either a horizontal position or used to provide an entry ramp into the rear, and thirdly the cargo area is highly customizable thanks to a rail system set into the floor. When extra storage space is needed even the front passenger seat can be folded up and removed from the vehicle.
Commenting on the U2 concept, Kevin Hunter president of Calty, Toyota’s North American design studio said: “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. 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.”
It’s all fairly sensible and practical, offering plenty of hauling space in a relatively compact vehicle. Toyota have no excuse however for making it so damn ugly.