Filed under: Concept Cars , Minivan/Van , Technology , Work , Toyota , Design/Style There’s a quiet revolution happening in US cities. People want to mix an urban lifestyle with a connection to nature and appreciation for craftsmanship. The result of all of this is folks pursuing things as varied as urban farming, home brewing and the whole maker movement. Toyota thinks it has the perfect concept for these intrepid customers with its new Urban Utility – or, U-squared, not U2 like the band – concept that it is debuting during a panel discussion hosted by Make: magazine in San Francisco and debuting publicly on September 20 at the World Maker Faire in New York City. The Urban Utility concept can best be described as a modern take on the old panel van. Designers from Toyota’s Calty Design Research center in California interviewed Maker Faire participants to find out what its users want from a novel vehicle like this. “Toyota saw an opportunity for a new approach to an urban vehicle based on increasing re-urbanization of our cities and urban drivers’ desire for flexibility, fun and maneuverability,” said Kevin Hunter, president of Calty. On the outside, the Urban Utility doesn’t really scream for attention. It’s meant to meet users “desire for greater utility but a smaller vehicle footprint,” according to the release, but the shape is still very much a van. The designers do try to lend it some panache with the LED headlights up front and checker board side panels.
Filed under: Government/Legal , Toyota , Earnings/Financials Toyota’s surprising announcement on Monday that it will move its North American headquarters from Torrance, CA location to the Dallas suburb of Plano, TX is allegedly not due to any political wrangling from the state’s Republican governor, Rick Perry. Perry (above) has been up front in his aggressive pursuit of businesses and jobs for Texas, traveling to California, Missouri, Illinois and New York to tempt corporations to his state. And it’s not just about the promise of much lower taxes, a Perry spokesman reminds Automotive News that the state boasts, “a workforce that is skilled and ready to do any job.” For his part, Jim Lentz , Toyota’s North American CEO said Plano was chosen through an internal process, with the location helped by its proximity to the company’s massive pickup factory in San Antonio rather than any campaigning from the governor. Lentz explained the selection process that led to Toyota choosing the Lone Star State as its new headquarters to Automotive News : “When we made the decision that we weren’t going to go to one of our three existing locations, our search started with about 100 different cities. We put together a decision matrix that put together economic considerations, business considerations, associate considerations,” Lentz says. That left the company with 100 cities, which were pared down to 25, then down to seven, which were then split between four “primary locations” and three “secondary locations.” Lentz wouldn’t elaborate on what other cities were competing with Plano. “We visited all four of those primary locations and it became quite clear that [Dallas] was the primary choice,” Lentz told Automotive News . As The Wall Street Journal points out , however, Toyota is clearly getting a sweet deal to make the move south, including hefty state incentives out of the Texas Enterprise Fund to the tune of $40 million dollars – an estimated $10,000 per job. The WSJ notes that the latter figure is “one of the largest incentives handed out in the decade-old program and cost more per job than any other large award.” HQ move based on study, not pitch from Gov. Perry, Toyota says originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 29 Apr 2014 14:15:00 EST.