No, it’s not a nod to Toyota’s favorite Irish rock band, nor a tribute to the similarly named Cold War era spy plane. This U2 Toyota concept vehicle, pronounced “U Squared,” is instead Toyota’s futuristic vision for urban utility vehicles.
Slated to go on display at the 2016 Canadian International Auto Show on February 12, the U Squared concept was created at Toyota’s CALTY Design Research center with modern urban entrepreneurs in mind, and as such, it comes brimming with unique ways to scale down the size of urban work vehicles without scaling down their capability and practicality.
It’s very much still a concept car, but if we’re lucky, something similar could roam a city center near you in the future.
If it looks just a bit familiar… that’s because it is. Toyota originally debuted the vehicle in 2014 at New York’s World Maker Faire. That said, it hasn’t lost much in the way of style or capability over the past two years. The U2 city van offers up a neat retractable roof panel for large and bulky items, a tailgate that folds down into a ramp, and a unique rail system that allows users to easily reconfigure the cargo hold, whether it be for housing bikes or chucking groceries.
Though the U2 puts its emphasis on urban utility, its dashboard is far from what you’d call utilitarian. An iPad previews driver information like fuel level and odometer readings, and the stylish speedometer looks much more “sports car” than city van. A bar that runs the length of the dashboard can also accommodate a removable desk-like work station. Pretty clever.
Outside, the U2’s design remains funky, fresh, and vaguely reminiscent of the sadly now-deceased Toyota FJ Cruiser. No word on what powers the sleek van.
While Toyota hasn’t announced (or even hinted) any plans to bring a vehicle like the U2 into production for North American, it does mark a rather notable void in Toyota’s product line amidst city van competitors like the Ford Transit Connect, Ram ProMaster City, Chevrolet City Express, Nissan NV200, and the new Mercedes-Benz Metris.
That said, considering the popularity of work trucks and full-size utility vans, perhaps the city van segment may be well and truly full. For this van-tastic concept car’s sake, we hope not.