LOS ANGELES (Bloomberg) -- Toyota is gauging potential interest in a niche model designed for urban, craft-oriented businesses with a small utility-van concept vehicle.
The small “U-squared” vehicle, designed at the company’s Calty studio in Newport Beach, California, was shown at a conference hosted by Make: magazine in San Francisco Tuesday and will make a public debut in New York later this month, Toyota said in a statement.
The vehicle has a flexible interior for hauling cargo and a retractable utility bar that can be used to support a desk or grocery-bag hooks.
If Toyota brings the van to market, it would compete with small utility models including the Ford Transit Connect and Nissan NV200 van. Automakers routinely show concept vehicles to assess public reaction and interest before deciding whether to produce and sell them.
"Calty keeps a number of projects concealed while exploring ideas and products," Kevin Hunter, president of Toyota’s U.S. design studio, said in the statement, without elaborating.
The U-squared comes as Toyota, the world’s largest carmaker, seeks to spruce up its image with livelier vehicle designs. In January it showed the FT-1 coupe, a sculpted, front- engine, rear-wheel-drive concept sports car at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. While it hasn’t confirmed production plans, the company continues to show variations of the coupe.