The Toyota JPN Taxi Concept is due to make its first public appearance at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show on November 20.
Conceived by Toyota as a response to the Japanese government's call for more user-friendly buses and taxis, with its distinctive shape and colour, the Concept looks strangely familiar.
We could bombard you with nods, winks and allusions, but instead let's just get it out there: The Toyota JPN Taxi Concept looks a lot like your standard London Hackney Cab.
Toyota: London Calling
The London Cab might not be the most iconic taxi in the world – I'd give that distinction to the yellow New York number, so influential that an entire taxi company was set up in Liverpool with a view to flooding the streets of Merseyside with Manhattan yellow.
Be that as it may, it's quite endearing that Toyota thought to introduce to Shinjuku a sight more befitting of Shoreditch.
Yet where the interior of London cabs might be described as “gritty” at best, the interior of the Toyota JPN Taxi Concept can only be described as “lush”. True, this is a pristine concept that hasn't yet had to contend with the post-club kebab crowd, but still. Don't you just wish your late-night cab rides were this clean, this refined, this spacious?
The cabin is especially high and the floor especially low, the better to give children and older people the room and ease of access they require. To make things even easier, the door slides open electrically. There's also a fancy information display which informs the passenger of the time, the fare, the driver's details and the route.
The Clean Streets of Tokyo
The Toyota JPN Taxi Concept might well be the first ever instance of a cab having been designed with specific streets in mind.
Its proportions have been meticulously honed to give it the sort of manoeuvrability that's essential in the Tokyo rush hour. Despite its beautifully spacious interior, the car is relatively small, which should make it extra adept at picking up and dropping off on busy streets without causing much of a delay for other motorists.
But best of all is the all-new powertrain that's been designed specifically for the Toyota JPN Taxi Concept. It's an LPG hybrid system, finely-tuned for low emission urban motoring. With their prevalence on the streets, their tendency to crawl in traffic and their stop-start nature, taxis must be amongst the biggest contributors to road-based CO2 emissions. It's fantastic that someone, somewhere, is doing something to address that.
We'll close with the closing remarks from the Toyota press release which, though cheekily amusing, nonetheless provide food for thought: “What’s not known yet, though, is whether the JPN Taxi will take you south of Tokyo’s Tama River after 10pm.”