Looks like ever since Akio Toyoda took over; things have started taking a somehow unconventional direction for Toyota. For almost a decade the carmaker has gained the reputation of building cars of anonymous character; until Akio’s arrival, which sparked the development of the Toyota 86, it seems to be merely the beginning of a new era that we hope would bring this carmaker back to its glory.
Lately, Japanese carmakers have been complaining about the fact that the youth over there have somehow lost interest in the automobile and rather started shifting further towards electronics & social media. This could be bad for business on the long run and they needed to address the issue.
Toyota decided to introduce ‘the Camatte’ at Tokyo Toy Show in an attempt to lure kids back into cars. It is basically a small retro-styled electric car with exchangeable and customizable body panels.
This is one out-of-the-box idea especially when you learn about the overall philosophy that goes behind its development, according to digitaltrends.com:
Toyota designed the Camatte “for parents and children to experience together the fun of driving, car customization, and car enthusiasm.” The name is derived from the Japanese word for “care,” which is something every driver, especially those under the age of 16, should have.
Parents with visions of their five-year-olds careening down the highway in a full-size car needn’t worry. At 106.3 inches long and 51.2 inches wide, the Camatte is kid-sized. It’s about the same length as a Smart Fortwo, but almost ten inches narrower.
If the Camatte’s pint-sized driver does get too enthusiastic, it should be easy to fix. Every body panel, along with the lights, roof, and rear seats, is designed to be removable. Toyota says this allows children and parents to easily customize the Camatte by swapping in different panels (there are two body styles: blue Sora and tan Daichi), and teaches kids about the inner workings of the car. In addition, the entire body can be lifted off as one piece to allow quick access to the interior.
As with all potentially dangerous toys, Toyota says the Camatte should only be used under adult supervision. Since its drivers are five to ten years away from their licenses, the Camatte is not road-legal. Toyota isn’t even thinking about selling it, but if it did, the company recommends that it be driven in open areas like fields or go-kart tracks.
Indeed a very interesting toy to raise a generation of car enthusiasts. The modular nature of the Camatte’s design gets you mechanically involved in the vehicle as much as driving it. This is another important aspect of being a true car enthusiast.
Though car makers in general should look deeper into the situation. Most young people nowadays in school and college might consider using alternatives due to the fact that buying a car generally costs money. In some places getting a license and a vehicle means spending crap loads of cash; with mommy and daddy not available to offer you finance for a vehicle its not surprise that people would seek a bicycle or public transportation. Plus the world is truly changing, as people are being caught behind computer screens most of the time to do work, socialize, learn and self-entertain. It would be of no surprise that this new generation would look at cars as merely a mean of transportation due to the fact their attention is far more into the virtual world and their involvement with these vehicles is diminishing. Of course, here in the Middle East, we are car crazy and for many youth it is a priority to acquire a vehicle to drive asap and crash it.
I would say the Camatte is a noble cause, regardless to the fact it merely is a move to raise a new generation of consumers (consumers that are enthusiastic about automobiles as an over-all mechanical and emotional experience) but the automobile is the passion of a century; in hopes that this coming century will not be an era of its demise. Earlier this year Akio Toyoda did mention something crucial, according to TTAC:
“In 1909, people shifted from the horse carriage to the automobile, and horses retired from the world of mobility. What happened to the horses? We still have horse races. People love horses. People support horses and horse racing. As long as car enthusiasts exist, motor sports will continue.”
I just hope other car-makers like Honda go back to its true heritage. Finger crossed with the new NSX arriving in the future