U-squared by Toyota: Perfect car for the maker movement?

Toyota U-squared Urban Utility Concept Vehicle

Toyota U-squared Urban Utility Concept Vehicle

Toyota’s latest concept car is designed to be as flexible and customizable as 3D printing.

Called the Urban Utility Concept Vehicle or U-Squared, the car was created by Toyota’s California design studio and attempts to harness what the company sees as a growing trend of entrepreneurship and innovative spirit in urban areas.

The result is a cross between a Mini, an SUV and a small truck, something that offers the small footprint of a city car but that can cope with the knocks, scrapes and potholes of urban driving.

But as well as being robust, the car is flexible. The roof can be folded back, the rear windshield can be lowered into the tailgate and the tailgate lowered like a ramp onto the ground. Even the side windows flip upwards so that access to the interior when standing outside or attempting to load something into the car is simple.

Inside it’s the same story. The rear passenger seats can be removed and the front passenger seat collapses. There’s also a clever rail system that can hold everything from a desk to bikes to bags of groceries. All of which makes it potentially the optimum vehicle for work, rest and play.

“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.”

Toyota developed the vehicle via interviews and feedback with members of the Maker Movement who attend Maker Faires, as well as via the company’s own internal research.

“As more products are developed expressly to appeal to Makers and their deep appreciation of design aesthetic 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.

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