February 3, 2016, 9:15 PM
Toyota is coming to the Canadian International AutoShow with a commercial vehicle to rival the Nissan NV200 and Ford Transit Connect.
The Toyota U2 (U Squared) is an urban utility concept that was unveiled at last fall’s World Maker Faire (a part science-fair, part country-fair all-ages gathering of engineers, tinkerers, hobbyists, authors, artists and commercial exhibitors, among other tech enthusiasts) in New York, and will make its global auto show debut at the Toronto show.
Unveiling the concept at a Maker community event helped Toyota gain insight into what the vehicle’s key demographics were looking for and whether they thought the vehicle would “work” for them.
“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 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.
Designed at Toyota’s Calty Design Research centre, the U2 (which is short for U-U, for Urban Utility) is intended for a new generation of mobile entrepreneurs who are daily discovering new ways to fulfil their passions as well as their livelihoods without the capital investment of commercial real estate.
"From its retracting roof panels, to its uniquely configurable utility rail system, the U2 offers a concept vehicle that is only limited by the imagination," says Cyril Dimitris , Vice President, Sales, Toyota Canada Inc. "Our North American design team left no stone unturned in masterfully creating a concept vehicle that truly embodies the spirit of today's Maker culture from the inside out."
The do-it-yourself movement is transforming cities with growing entrepreneurship and innovative spirit in urban areas, and the U2 reflects the lifestyle and needs of the entrepreneurial, urban driver. Besides the roof’s ability to roll back, the vehicle’s tailgate folds down into a ramp, and the interior’s versatile rail system allows the interior to be customized to suit individual needs.
For example, the retractable mid-ship utility bar can hold a desk or grocery bag hooks, or be used to strap in a bicycle for easy, sheltered transportation. And if the vehicle is to be used as a delivery truck, the side windows flip up to allow easy access from curbside and the tailgate window slides down into the panel. The front passenger seat can be folded or removed outright to make space for long cargo, and the interior rail system can also hold two additional rear seats.
Yet despite its versatility, the U2 maintains a compact footprint for ready manoeuvrability in the cityscape, while a low load floor allows easy loading and unloading.
A modern open-concept interior features a minimalist cockpit, with the instrument panel featuring a tablet touchscreen for controls over most vehicle systems.
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