Toyota say they have set their sights on a younger generation of car buyers with their latest new uBox concept vehicle, but we think they’ve made a catastrophic error of judgement. Unless they believe Generation Z is crying out for a hideous new mini-van with some pointless scaffolding on the front.
Perhaps more school-project than concept car, the uBox is the result of a two-year collaboration between engineers and designers at Toyota Motors North America and students at Clemson University. It was hand-built by graduate students at Clemson’s International Centre for Automotive Research, and it apparently has been designed with versatility in mind.
Toyota says the uBox can be customised in a number of different ways, including seats which can easily be removed to create more space, plus the all-electric drivetrain can double as a power supply for Gen-Z’s various electric gadgets. Because no other vehicles currently on the market allow you to do that, right? It’s also claimed that parts of the dash can be optimised for 3D printing, but once again, who cares? For the foreseeable future, 3D printing will never stack up as a viable alternative to moulded plastic in a large scale production environment.
According to Toyota, “the typical customer for uBox is a young entrepreneur who wants a vehicle that can provide utility and recreation on the weekend but that can also offer office space or other career-centric or lifestyle uses during the week.” But what benefit does owning a uBox have over the raft of SUVs or people movers that are already on the market, and why does it have to look so ugly? Regardless, the Japanese car maker claims the uBox will be on offer to buyers in 2020.
I might sound like I’m being a little harsh on the uBox here. As a school project it is deeply impressive and I really hope that all the students at Clemson got an A+ for it. But is it a vehicle which Generation Z would be interested in and want to buy? I’m not so sure about that.