Toyota's tiny FJ Cruiser is for driving on the moon

Californian design studio celebrates 50 years of Toyota with Baby Lunar Cruiser

Toyota Baby Lunar Cruiser
(Image credit: Toyota)

If you are going to celebrate a milestone in your career, you might as well reach for the moon, right? That’s exactly what CALTY has done with its latest Toyota-based concept.

Never heard of CALTY? Fret not, because it is a bit of a nutty studio (or outpost, if you read Toyota's words) in the Japanese marque’s global design network. And it occasionally gets called upon to create something "really out there, maaaan".

Rewind to 1973 and Dr. Shoichiro Toyoda and Eiji Toyoda, early chairmen of the Toyota brand, created the CALTY studios in California as a sort of top secret, skunkworks arm to inject some seriously needed inspiration into its Japanese design philosophy.

Toyota Baby Lunar Cruiser

(Image credit: Toyota)

The results have been pretty wild. From caravans to mid-engined sports cars, most of its designs have "inspired" production cars, rather than directly leading to them.

As if to doff its cap to this fact, the studio has come up with something pretty special to celebrate its 50th birthday – chiefly a futuristic FJ40 Land Cruiser that can happily pootle around on the moon. We want whatever is in their tea.

The concept is apparently inspired by the real Lunar Cruiser, which is currently being developed by the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Toyota. But this one has al little more SUV about it. And a huge dollop of the original FJ Cruiser - a design classic in itself.

Toyota Baby Lunar Cruiser

(Image credit: Toyota)

It is powered by in-wheel electric motors and controlled by dual joysticks, while airless tyres ensure it can manoeuvre and stay mobile on even the roughest terrain. There’s a massive glass canopy for unparalleled visibility, and an augmented reality display gives astronauts all of the information they need in real-time.

Naturally, you get a full suite of cameras and lidar/radar sensors, so we assume this thing can also drive itself. What’s more, there’s a split tailgate at the back, so the astronauts can, erm, enjoy a picnic, maybe?

Agreed, it is mad and we will eat several hats if this ever sees light of day, but it’s a surefire way of reminding everyone that CALTY still exists. 

After all, it has been busy working on the 2024 Land Cruiser and the 2024 Tacoma, two projects that are slightly more down to earth. Badum tish.

Leon Poultney

Leon has been writing about automotive and consumer tech for longer than he cares to divulge. When he’s not testing the latest fitness wearable and action camera, he’s out in a shed fawning over his motorcycles or trying not to kill himself on a mountain bike/surfboard/other extreme thing. He's also a man who knows his tools, and he's provided much of T3's drills coverage over the years, all without injuring himself.