Toyota KIKAI Concept urges people to show better appreciation of machines

Article by Andrew Christian, on November 2, 2015

Meet the Toyota KIKAI – the Japanese carmaker’s own rendition of a true concept. If people see one, they would immediately recognize that it is not a typical car ready to bust the market. They would also realize that while it is not as flashy as concept cars have been, it delivers a message of loving the basics of what really makes a car.

While the Toyota KIKAI deviates from the typical perception of concept vehicles, it succeeds in conveying a certain message that concepts usually carry – “explore us more.” So what’s with the Toyota KIKAI?

The concept basically takes the machinery out from where they are usually are, and displays them for anyone to see. Yes, the inner elements of the vehicle have become a seamless part of the exterior while its protruding features -- like fuel tank, reserve tank and exhaust pipes as well as the analog-style meters and switches -- all contribute to the true meaning of the concept.

By doing such, designers of the Toyota KIKAI – which means “machine” in Japanese – were able to show what it really means to drive. They also urge everyone to appreciate not just the elegant exterior, the comfortable interior, the infotainment systems or the driver assistance systems, but also the machines inside the vehicle.

Mechanical as they maybe, these elements are truly amazing if only a vehicle’s occupants can see how they work.

Thus, to show the driver what it means to drive, Toyota installed small window at the driver's feet, revealing to the pilot the movements of the tires and suspension as well as how fast the vehicle is running along the road surface.

On the other hand, the driver could see the movements of the upper control arm through the windshield, showing the pilot how the vehicle goes, turns and stops. Interestingly, the driver is seated on the very heart of the Toyota KIKAI, thanks to a central driver seat.

Since the KIKAI features an optimal triangular seating layout for its three occupants, paving way for a more congenial in-cabin communication space. On the other hand, the side windows of the vehicle expand to the roof, allowing passengers to enjoy their surroundings while on the cruise.

Press Release

Toyota KIKAI (world premiere)

As the products of human creativity, dedication, and knowledge, machines should be objects of admiration. The concept was designed to explore and emphasize the fundamental appeal of machines: their fine craftsmanship, their beauty, simplicity, and their fascinating motion. As a true concept car, the Toyota KIKAI's appeal is simultaneously free from and reliant on the core concepts of automobiles.

Innovative form
This concept takes the machinery, normally hidden beneath the vehicle body, and makes an open display of its beauty. Directly expressed in this way, the vehicle's inner workings become part of the exterior. In addition to the carefully designed form, continued into details including the fuel tank, reserve tank, and exhaust pipes, the analog-style meters and switches offer an engaging dialog with the machinery.

New driving sensation
The small window at the driver's feet is another distinctive aspect of this car's structure, communicating the movements of the tires and suspension and the rush of speed along the road surface. Through the windshield, the movements of the upper control arm are also visible. This provides a novel driving sensation in which the machinery that supports the operations of cruising, turning, and stopping in ordinary everyday driving can be directly perceived with the senses.

Stimulating layout
The adoption of a central driver seat, which places the driver at the heart of the car, gives a more instinctive sensory connection with the vehicle. The optimal spacing between the three passenger seats achieved by their triangular layout creates a congenial in-cabin communication space. The expansive side window that reaches up to the roof delivers full enjoyment in urban and natural landscapes alike.

While most vehicles conceal their inner workings beneath smooth sheet metal, this concept encourages us to appreciate the complex beauty of the mechanical aspects of cars. More broadly, it reminds us of the appeal of the physical and tactile in a digital age.

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