Land Cruiser Se courtesy of Toyota

Toyota Electric Car News From Japan Mobility Show

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Has the sleeping giant, Toyota, awoken at long last from its slumber? This week at the Japan Mobility Show, it unveiled two new electric cars, an e-bike, a powered wheelchair, a lunar rover, and a new steering system that takes the yoke Tesla and adds throttle and braking controls. Oh, and the company also announced it will shift to the Tesla-derived NACS plug for its electric vehicles in North America by 2025. First up, those two new electric cars.

Toyota Land Cruiser Se Concept

Courtesy of Toyota

Three-row SUVs are the hottest section of the new car market, especially in America. Toyota has updated its iconic Land Cruiser to add battery power to a three-row concept vehicle it calls the Land Cruiser Se. Here’s everything we know about it from the company press release:

  • Offers the high-torque driving performance unique to BEVs, together with an elegant, stylish design. Toyota further broadens the Land Cruiser brand’s appeal with a three-row SUV that caters to the world’s diverse needs.
  • BEV quietness helps create a comfortable cabin space when driving in urban areas and other on-road situations.
  • A monocoque body also offers highly responsive handling and confidence in tackling rough terrain.
  • Length (mm) / Width (mm) / Height (mm): 5,150 / 1,990 / 1,705
  • Wheelbase: (mm) 3,050
  • Passenger capacity: 7

That’s it. Regarding sale date? Price? Range? Tax credit eligibility? All unknown officially at this point.

Toyota EPU Concept

Courtesy of Toyota

If a three-row electric SUV doesn’t float your boat, what about a battery electric pickup truck that is about the size of the new Ford Maverick? Ford didn’t quite have the courage to make its small pickup a pure EV, but a hybrid version is selling like hotcakes.

This unibody concept looks nearly production ready and — depending on price — could tap a market segment that has no competition at the present time. Not everyone needs a diesel-powered, 6-wheel pickup truck that can haul an 8-horse trailer like the ones we see on Yellowstone. A small trucklet that can haul a few items would serve the needs of most people, especially with that two-piece tailgate that flips up to keep things from sliding out the back of the load bed.

Whether there is a midgate planned is unknown at this point, but it could make the EPU just the ticket for hauling longer items on occasion. Here is what Toyota has to say about the EPU:

  • Next-generation mid-size pickup truck concept, with a monocoque body delivering high durability to create a practical yet stylish BEV. At just over 5 meters long with a double cab design, the EPU’s monocoque structure also allows for a versatile deck space that caters to a broader range of user applications.
  • The rear of the cabin links boldly with the deck to accommodate diverse user preferences, supporting a wide range of mobility lifestyles, including outdoor activities.
  • BEV quietness is accompanied by packaging with a low center of gravity for superior handling stability and ride comfort.
  • Length (mm) / Width (mm) / Height (mm) — 5,070 / 1,910 / 1,710
  • Wheelbase (mm) — 3,350
  • Passenger capacity — 5
Courtesy of Toyota

Land Hopper Concept

Toyota Land HopperCpurtesy
Courtesy of Toyota

At the opposite end of the electric mobility realm from the Land Cruiser Se is the Land Hopper Concept. Here’s what Toyota has to say about it:

  • Three-wheeled electric personal mobility concept, with two front wheels opening up new transport possibilities. A foldable design makes for easy storage even with limited car trunk space. When combined with a car, the Land Hopper expands the pleasures of travel, including touring around destinations.
  • Can be ridden without a driver’s license* (by those aged 16 or older). Expands user’s scope of travel and supports independence at different life stages, including serving as mobility for seniors who choose to give up their licenses.
  • Compact body size and low seat height make reaching the ground and getting on/off easier. Outstanding maneuverability and distinctive lean mechanism, which allows the mechanically linked front wheels to move up and down, offer an intuitive, exhilarating ride unlike any car or bicycle.
  • Length (mm) / Width (mm) / Height (mm) — 1,355 / 600 / 930
  • Wheelbase (mm) — 1,020
  • Passenger capacity — 1

Juu Concept

Courtesy of Toyota

Next up is a battery-powered motorized wheelchair that Toyota says will revolutionize mobility for people with disabilities.

  • Combining style and driveability, this electric wheelchair is a new concept mobility designed to offer the freedom to travel anywhere unassisted. The JUU expands the user’s world by enabling them to freely navigate places that are difficult to access by electric or regular wheelchairs.
  • Supports the independence of people with physical impairments who regularly use electric or regular wheelchairs, increasing their opportunities for outings and employment.
  • When climbing or descending a stairway, the two large powered wheels (main wheels) on the JUU’s sides traverse the steps, while the retractable tail flips down from behind the backrest to prevent tipping and stabilize the wheelchair. The JUU automatically maintains an optimal posture and can negotiate steps up to 16 cm tall.
  • The drive system employs motors used in cars. Utilizing automotive components ensures high quality and reliability.
  • Toyota is also exploring advanced functions that would enable the JUU to autonomously move and load itself into the rear of a car after the user has boarded the vehicle, and return to the driver’s seat when the user wants to alight.
  • Length (mm) / Width (mm) / Height (mm) — 1,110 / 680 / 1,040

Space Mobility Prototype

Courtesy of Toyota

For those who need an electric vehicle to traverse distant moons or planets, Toyota has just the answer — the Space Mobility Concept. No production plans have been announced. Toyota says:

  • An experimental vehicle for advancing development, particularly of drive system technologies, aimed at creating mobility for use on the moon and in outer space. Each wheel is fitted with its own motor and steering, as part of specifications being developed to provide safe, reliable driving even in rugged and unforgiving extraterrestrial environments.
  • Electric-powered with outstanding driving performance, capable of navigating boulders up to 50 cm tall and climbing steep 25° slopes. The technology honed through this prototype will be used in space mobility vehicles such as the LUNAR CRUISER.
  • Length (mm) / Width (mm) / Height (mm) — 3,460 / 2,175 / 1,865
  • Passenger capacity — 2
  • Maximum ascent incline (deg) — 25

NEO Steer Concept

Courtesy of Toyota

Finally, at the Japan Mobility Show, Toyota introduced its NEO Steer prototype, a yoke-like device that moves the throttle controls to the steering device where they are operated by hands instead of feet. Why would anyone want to do that? Well, it would allow people who have lost the use of their legs or feet to operate a car and Toyota says it gives drivers a superb view of the road ahead. How serious the company is about this technology is uncertain. Here’s what Toyota has to say about it:

  • A new cockpit concept based on motorcycle handlebars, integrating the functions of the accelerator and brake pedals into the steering wheel.
  • A sweeping field of vision made possible by the steering wheel’s irregular profile, and the roomy pedal-free floor space, enable an unrestricted driving position along with smooth entry and exit. The NEO Steer will help foster greater love for cars, and deliver the joy and excitement of mobility for all. Also offers safe, intuitive hand-operated driving for users with lower limb impairments.

The Takeaway

Some of these concepts and prototypes are interesting, and the idea of a 3-row electric SUV is pretty exciting. But what really lights our fire is the EPU electric pickup. That is a vehicle that could catapult Toyota from zero to hero in the electric car world in a hurry. Build it and they will come — in droves.


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Steve Hanley

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new." You can follow him on Substack and LinkedIn but not on Fakebook or any social media platforms controlled by narcissistic yahoos.

Steve Hanley has 5635 posts and counting. See all posts by Steve Hanley