Toyota has shared some photos of concepts that have, until now, never seen the light of day. Their public revelation comes as part of the 50th anniversary of Toyota’s pioneering CALTY design studio in Newport Beach, California, the first of its kind from any automaker. The concepts include a sporty wagon built atop the Toyota 86 platform and a pre-Prius EV hatchback.
Described as CALTY’s first earnest exploration of electric vehicles, an unnamed EV concept arrived in the early 90s, long before Toyota launched the game-changing Prius hybrid. Like many “what ifs” it didn’t proceed far enough to garner an actual name, and today it is referred to simply the Electric Vehicle Design Study. Created at the behest of Toyota headquarters in Japan, the sleek little hatchback arrived about half a decade before the Prius’ debut.
Designers prioritized aerodynamics and driving efficiency. Early sketches by designer Yo Hiruta show a 2-seat layout and a longer 2+2 that was eventually chosen to be made into a life-size model. Toyota describes it as having a “compact lightweight body” and “wind-cutting profile”.
The two-door hatch was meant for small, city-dwelling families. Narrow tires helped cut down wind and rolling resistance, and charging ports were available on both sides of the car, just aft of the door handles. Toyota even mocked up several miniature models of the EV in various colors and arranged them in front of a scale dealership to see what that would look like.
Even if it was too early for a full-blown EV, we’re kind of sad that the concept’s shape didn’t make it into production. It’s a clean, cohesive design with well-integrated must-haves like the lights and door handles. The elegant C-pillar, character line connecting the wheel arches, and curved rear glass are all very nice touches. It would have worked extremely well as a Vitz/Yaris.
Hot on the heels of the excitement surrounding the Scion FR-S in 2012, Toyota explored options for maximizing the use of its rear-wheel-drive layout. The Scion X86D concept (lead photo) turned it into a sexy compact wagon that we would have loved to see in production. To quote Toyota, “Following the introduction of the Scion FR-S, Calty was inspired to put the vehicle’s unique platform and package to further use — namely, the flat-4 engine and all-wheel drive.” We presume they mean rear-wheel-drive, but perhaps AWD was considered as well.
Both front and rear feature large bowtie graphics. The front mimics the rear, with triangular headlights nestled into the upper areas of each side of the tie. Concentric lines ripple out from the underside of the headlights that give it kind of a masked superhero look. The hood also features a power bulge marked by longitudinal lines, and Toyota says that the compact profile of the boxer engine allowed for the low hood. Some photos show a silver roof blending into a blue body while others depict a solid blue from top to bottom.
The interior shows a very a driver-oriented cabin with some concept car flourishes, such as the bright yellow contrast color and repeating hexagon shapes, and looks mostly production-ready. Interestingly, vertical screens atop the dash were already being implemented even though it would be another few years before we saw them in widespread use on production cars. We think it’s an absolute travesty that this car was never built. Imagine a Toyota 86-sized RWD wagon privy to all the mods available to the FR-S. We would’ve been first in line with a checkbook.
Images courtesy of Toyota.