Toyota Unveils Its Cargo Van Concept

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Just in case anyone thinks Toyota has missed the news that Chevrolet, Ford, Nissan and Ram have jumped into the small cargo van market, Toyota's all-new concept vehicle — the Urban Utility (just debuted in San Francisco at the Maker Faire) — should leave no doubt Toyota is going to try to put its stamp on a competitive entry.

The Urban Utility (aka U2) vehicle looks to have a short-wheelbase Highlander platform with a closed rear cabin to allow for many different types of interior configurations. The uniquely customizable space can be easily accessed from the rear drop-down tailgate with features such as a floor- and side-wall mounted utility rail system, fold-up and removable seats, swing-open and retractable side windows and roof, and a futuristic Tesla-like iPad in-dash screen and electro-shifter. The U2 was built and designed in-house by Toyota's Calty Design Research studio in Newport Beach, Calif.

Toyota's interpretation of urban mobility and customizable interiors could be the first step in Toyota's move to gain a foothold in North America's growing commercial market (although no official decision has been made about production). Making a maneuverable, tight-turning little van that gets great fuel economy and can carry a bulky load is new territory for Toyota, and this looks like a good first attempt.

To read the complete press release, click here.

Manufacturer images


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Reminds me of the Honda Element, which was a swiss army knife type of vehicle, but got not very good mpg. So imo why have hardly any capability a pickup can give you and only get maybe 5 -7 mpg better but lose that as soon as you have to hook up a trailer to haul anything. Imo, its still hard to beat a 1/2 ton pickup in utility for the cost. I tried a CRV and a trailer back in my femme days and with a trailer and a dirt bike on there got 19mpg and was risky noisy as heck pulling that thing and a pia to park manuever etc. Again hard to beat the utility, safety, comfort and driveability of a pickup. these little things would have to get double the mileage in the real world for me to even remotely consider.

I'd hardly call this a LEAP--in fact Toyota is late to the dance here, converting a CUV or minivan to a commercial utility. Adding some quirky style elements hardly makes it a game changer.

Looks cute and pretty.

How durable is this for work. To make all of those innovative ramps and roof work how much extra weight will the van have.

A concept, but not viable.

It just looks like a niche vehicle. They might sell a few. Than it will be discontinued. Nothing exciting here. I have to agree with the comments about the good old fashioned pick up. You can't beat them especially with the mpg improvements.

I wonder if Toyota will try to sell the Hi-Ace in America

@Brandon D
I'm sorry I can't post this comment in the correct article as it will not post. There must be a gremlin in the system. Below is my comment;

All large multi-national and diverse manufacturers are broken down into different groups.

I would state the the Tunland pickup has very little to do with the Foton tractor. They are two completely different vehicles from two different areas within the Foton group.

Foton will not bring a pickup into the US, so whatever the issues are with the tractor will have no affect regarding US Foton pickup sales.

Foton can not bring the Tunland into the US competitively because of the chicken tax.

Foton will not build a factory in the US to make pickups because of the costs vs number of sales.

This is how the chicken tax works, it forces manufacturers to set up in NAFTA for production and not import.

Now if there was no chicken tax, the US would have many different pickups. Whether some one thinks they are good or bad. But, the US would have triple the choice to the consumer

I like the fact that the roof can be retracted to allow for tall bulky cargo. The ramp may be a hindrance if one wanted to use a forklift to put something in the back.

Looks like Chev HHR on steroids.
Also if that's a flip down ramp only and not to the side, not gonna have many buyers. And a rather steep ramp at that to be able to push anything heavy up it especially with out a tapered tail gate edge.

What is the target market here, small business owners who sell cupcakes or bikes and want to look trendy delivering them? If this is a delivery-type vehicle, anybody that delivers anything bigger than an elaborate diorama will want something else. Forget about the construction industry using this.

CNorris you are absolutely right, it is a niche vehicle.

this is a concept vehicle which means not much of it would continue into a production vehicle.......

the raised roof and ramp idea could be really cool if executed properly tho

Hey Toyota... it's not LONG enough. It's gotta have a 6 or 8 foot bed, and be able to carry plywood.

Lou BC the idea of the roof retracting is noting new, GM had that on the GMC Anvoy, the Chevy TrailBlazer causin!

@Louis o - didn't say it was a new idea.

"CNorris you are absolutely right, it is a niche vehicle."

It may be a niche vehicle, but that's a pretty big niche, if you ask me. Right now pizza delivery, flower delivery, bakers, caterers, quite literally any business that does frequent, light weight delivery could use this at least as well, if not better, than the Scion xD, Nissan Cube and other micro-SUVs they're currently using. Heck, even the US post office could use them if they came in RHD and AWD and probably cheaper than the purpose-built American General products which enjoy limited production runs at high, one-off costs. After all, the USPS is already adopting the work-only conversion of the Caravan in some areas.

Niche? Perhaps. But what a niche!

I think you are all missing the point that this is the ultimate dog vehicle. I have a 2003 element right now and pickups are stupid tall, even at 6'2" they feel difficult to mount. It's like that episode of the simpsons where they built the homer mobile. I've alway wanted pop out seats for more load space.

If it can fit 4'×8' sheets goods and didn't have the ramp, I'll buy
Keep working on it Toyota!

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