Posts Tagged ‘vans’

Retro Sambar/ VW Bus Lookalike At Auction in Japan

Posted by Stephen On Tuesday, February 9th, 2016

Mitsuoka tries to do retro, but never seems to pull it off. The Nissan Figaro, now that is true retro. But what about this — a Suzuki Sambar kei van converted to look like an old VW bus? Personally, I think these are incredibly cute and look even better in the metal.

Watch the video to see more detail of this particular one we found at auction here in Japan.

VW-style Subaru Samar Dias - auction sheet

VW-style Subaru Samar Dias - front

VW-style Subaru Samar Dias - interior

VW-style Subaru Samar Dias - rear


New Toyota Urban Utility Concept – Surprising Innovation

Posted by Stephen On Friday, September 19th, 2014

Even though it’s not the most exciting segment in the automotive market, we’ve seen several new small utility vans introduced over the past couple years. Chief among them is the Nissan NV200, which is “New York’s Official Taxi” since it won a contest claiming the title around the time of the van’s launch.

However, today’s story isn’t about the Nissan NV200; it’s about the all-new Toyota Urban Utility Concept that the automaker will officially reveal at the World Maker Faire in NYC this weekend.

Toyota Urban Utility Concept

This is the Toyota Urban Utility Concept, cleverly code-named the U2 Concept. From the front, it almost looks ordinary, but a closer inspection proves otherwise. It clearly has a more futuristic and distinguished design than what you’d expect from a utility van. The checkered rear window in particular paired with the blacked-out A-pillar make the aesthetic flow cleanly. Meanwhile, that RAV4-like front-end reassures us that we are, in fact, looking at a Toyota.

The van gets even more interesting once you see it from behind:

Toyota U2 Concept

Notice anything?

The tailgate is no ordinary door – it’s a foldable ramp. The rear half of the roof can be folded forward for even more convenient access. And even though you can’t see it in the pictures, the checkered side windows actually fold up for curb-side access to the rear cargo space.

Now you’re probably starting to believe us when we say this is no ordinary cargo van. In fact, calling it a van at all may not be the most accurate label; the design says that it’s part truck, part crossover and part van. Whatever you call it, though, it’s definitely compact. A big part of the U2 Concept’s mission is to deliver great fuel economy in a practical, customizable package.

Speaking of customization, the interior is where this concept really breaks away from the rest:

Toyota Urban Utility Concept interior rails

Those black and gray rivets along the floor and side of the van are actually a rail system that can be fitted with anything from passenger seats to bicycle racks to grocery bag hooks. Or you can leave them empty for a massive slab of rear space, effectively making the van into a cargo hauler.

And that weird looking front seat? You can get a better look at that below:

Toyota Urban Utility Concept front dash

As you can see, Toyota’s designers put together a highly futuristic front dash with tablet integration and a redesigned, “intuitive” new shifter.

Unfortunately, Toyota hasn’t yet said anything about whether or not they’d ever actually produce a vehicle like the Urban Utility Concept. From what we can tell, Toyota needed a car to show at the World Maker Faire and their Calty Design Research firm just happened to have the U2 on the drawing board at the time. Regardless of whether its inception was coincidental or deliberate, there’s no denying that the U2 Concept is a very innovative vehicle that doesn’t fit into the boundaries of today’s utility van. If you’d like to see more, watch the virtual tour of the Toyota U2 Concept below:


Suzuki Every Van EV Trials Start

Posted by Stephen On Thursday, July 14th, 2011

It is easy sometimes to forget about manufacturers like Suzuki. They don’t seem to be in the big league (like Toyota), nor do they have a charismatic CEO (like Mr. Ghosn of Nissan). Having said that, these “minnows” can sometimes surprise. After all, Mitsubishi came out of nowhere with their i-MiEV, and here comes Suzuki with an electric version of their kei (mini) van, the Every. Suzuki may not be a big player outside of Japan. but in its home market, it is frequently numero uno due to sales of minicars called kei cars.

While vans like the Every may seem rather quaint to western, and especially North American, eyes, these smaller vans are actually a stalwart of Japanese business and agricultural users. In ICE form, their small engines make them very fuel efficient, and their size means they can navigate country roads and tight city streets with equal ease.

Since Mitsubishi launched their Minicab-MiEV earlier this year, it did not take too much imagination from Suzuki to realize that they needed to make sure they were in the electric vehicle game also. Suzuki has created 13 of these EV Every vans which will be leant out to Suzuki dealerships around Japan, starting with those closest to Suzuki’s home in Hamamatsu, central Japan. This will allow Suzuki to gather real-world driving data for their next-generation vehicles.

Suzuki EV Every electric kei van next to Suzuki Swift Range Extender

EV Every recharging (right)  with Swift Range Extender (left)

The EV Every test vehicles are fitted with high-capacity compact Lithium Ion batteries which can be fully charged in 5 hours using a 200V outlet, giving the EV Every a maximum range of 100 kilometers. Although this may not sound like a lot, as I mentioned in an earlier post about the Minicab-iMiEV, this is more than enough for the typical delivery vehicle in Japan as it jets from street to street. The weight has increased 200KG over the base ICE model, but the cargo capacity remains the same at 250KG. There is no indication as to how the range might be affected if run with a full cargo. Presumably, this would be one thing they will want to investigate with this real world drive testing.

Although the EV Every is not slated for production, the data gleaned from these vehicles is likely to prove useful when Suzuki opens their Next Generation Environmental Vehicle technology development center in August 2016. To be honest, I hope they plan on moving forward before then, otherwise early starters like Mitsubishi and Nissan are likely to be too far ahead to catch by then.

Source: Chunichi Shinbun (Japanese-language)