Earlier today, Toyota had a huge “media briefing” about the famously technically conservative company’s plans to enter the battery-electric vehicle market, and as fitting a company of the size and might of Toyota, there was a lot there. Not the least of which was the number of proposed cars shown—this wasn’t an event showing one BEV idea, it was as they said, a whole “showroom of the future,” which in my head is read with dramatic echo effects and a thunderclap. Of this showroom of the future (ka-pow), I just want to talk about one odd little car hanging out in the back row.
Toyota’s display of this huge variety pack of BEV concepts encouraged lots of us on staff to pick one to scrutinize a bit more; David snagged that nifty little blue electric FJ-like thing, I’m getting that little green box, and I suspect you’ll get treated to a few more, so, you know, prepare accordingly.
Toyota calls this concept, cleverly, the Micro Box, and it’s hard to argue with that name. It appears to be a Kei-class vehicle in size, suggesting a Japanese Domestic Market target, though I don’t see why something like this couldn’t work in a lot of countries and contexts.
This looks to be some manner of urban delivery vehicle, as the concept appears to just have one seat, though I can’t see why a four-seater wouldn’t be possible.
There’s a lot of interesting things that seem to be going on here, structurally and visually. The black fenders look to be made of some sort of textured plastic, looking similar to hard-wearing and rugged plastics I’ve seen used on, of all things, playground equipment. Don’t laugh, those things get the shit kicked out of them day in and day out and have to keep going.
The side window glass appears to be able to be opened gull-wing style, and the black panel below it I think may fold down like a ramp:
I’m guessing, of course, but based on the look of those panels and the likely goals of the car, this seems plausible. A little ramp would make loading wheeled carts from a curbside much easier, for example, and the gull-wing upper door would prevent many head-klonkings.
Also interesting is the front-end treatment, which is daringly asymmetrical. At first I thought there was just one big, square cyclopean headlight, but closer examination shows that the headlights are small quad-LED things and the big square thing appears to be some kind of display that’s showing a QR code, which I can see being useful for fleet management and that kind of thing.
I suspect that this is built on the smallest modular variant of some new Toyota EV platform, with the usual battery-in-floor, motor at rear axle sort of setup. I bet something like this may be limited in speed and range, but perhaps it can it 60 mph and manage, oh, 80 miles?
Those seem like the kind of plausible but useful numbers that could make this Micro Box a genuinely useful thing for cities everywhere. I’ll admit, these are all guesses, but I think I’m being careful with my imagination, and if what I’m imagining is close, then I think I like this Micro Box.