In the future, Toyota SUVs may be able to do a lot more than go off-road.
The Japanese auto giant unveiled a concept on Thursday called the Baby Lunar Cruiser (BLC) to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Calty Design Research, the American wing of the automaker’s global design network. And as the rover’s name may have given away, its distinctive look was inspired by the classic Land Cruiser, specifically the FJ40 (pictured up top with the BLC).
Since its founding in El Segundo, California, in 1973, Calty has been responsible for some of Toyota’s most daring designs, including the second-generation Celica and the new Tacoma. The studio, which has been based in Newport Beach since 1978, has also dreamed up several futuristic concepts—including the MX-1 sports car and an idea for the A80 Supra—that may have never made it to production but would influence the brand’s design language for years to come.
The BLC is almost certainly the studio’s boldest creation yet. The rover is primarily inspired by the US version of the second-generation Land Cruiser, the FJ40. Both vehicles share a grille design, upright stance and a boxy body. The biggest difference is that the concept has an expansive glass canopy that extends almost to the front of the vehicle, giving the driver and their passengers unobstructed views of the lunar surface in front of them. Inside the vehicle is equipped with a dashboard-spanning augmented reality display, adjustable spaceframe seats and M.O.L.L.E. panels for on-the-fly flexibility.
The concept is more of a design study than anything else, so technical details are scant. Toyota said that the rover will have four in-wheel motors and can be controlled by twin joysticks, which the brand says gives it extraordinary maneuverability. It also features airless tires to tackle any kind of terrain it encounters, something that should come in handy on the Moon.
As you may have guessed by now, the chances of you ever getting to buy a BLC are lower than slim to none. That doesn’t mean Toyota won’t find a use for the design, though. In 2020, NASA asked the automotive industry to help it design the next lunar rover. This concept, along with Hyundai’s Tiger X-1 prototype, suggests that some automakers are interested in doing just that.
Click here for more photos of the Toyota Baby Lunar Cruiser concept.