The 2023 Tokyo auto show is chock full of new concept cars and production models, but perhaps none as novel as the Toyota Kayoibako concept.
The Kayoibako is an electric van that, at about 157 inches long and on a 110.2-inch wheelbase, is close to the length of a Mini Cooper. Fittingly, the word Japanese word “kayoibako” refers to shipping containers with reconfigurable inserts for different uses, and sized for efficient use of space.
Like its namesake, the Toyota Kayoibako was designed with efficiency packaging that can also be adapted to a variety of different uses, according to Toyota. This includes everything from last-mile deliveries to shuttle-bus services, the automaker said in a press release. The van can also be equipped with display shelves, allowing it to serve as a mobile shop.
The Kayoibako was also designed for use as a private passenger vehicles, including easier wheelchair access, Toyota claims. And unlike the smaller kei vans sold in Japan, it’s just large enough to be viable in the U.S. and Europe. The closest comparison would be the first-generation Scion xB from Toyota’s defunct “youth” brand. But the Kayoibako has more interior space, and the added utility of sliding doors.
This van wasn’t the only small vehicle Toyota unveiled at the Tokyo show. It also revealed the EPU, an electric truck that’s compact or midsize by U.S. standards. Rival Nissan, meanwhile, showed its Hyper Tourer concept, which reimagines the minivan around solid-state batteries. And the Mitsubishi D:X concept hints at a future plug-in hybrid version of the automaker’s Japanese-market Delica minivan.
The Kayoibako wouldn’t have much competition in the U.S. Startup Canoo has a similar idea for a multipurpose electric van, but its design is much larger. Another startup, Telo Trucks, has a van variant of its efficiency-focused electric pickup in mind. Telo sees the U.S. as a market with an untapped demand for such a model.
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