Toyota has designed a baby lunar rover. The automaker showed it off for the first time today to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Calty Design Research, its American design outpost.
The Toyota Baby Lunar Cruiser (BLC) was one of several concepts the automaker rolled out for the anniversary. It’s designed “to conquer rugged terrain on Earth and beyond.”
Gallery: Toyota Baby Lunar Cruiser (BLC) Concept
The concept borrows styling cues from the FJ40 Land Cruiser, with bold “TOYOTA” script across the front to let those Martians know what true off-road capability looks like. The vehicle has an expansive windshield canopy for optimal forward visibility, extending around the grille.
Inside, the BLC has a digital dashboard with augmented reality, dual joysticks to control the airless tyres, MOLLE panels, and adjustable spaceframe seats. It has a full array of cameras and sensors, a split tailgate, and in-wheel motors.
The concept also draws inspiration from the real Land Cruiser it’s developing. Toyota inked a deal in 2019 with the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency to build a new moon rover. The plan is to design a manned, pressurised craft capable of exploring the lunar surface.
The company said it could design a rover capable of travelling over 10,000 kilometres (6,213 miles) using fuel cell technology. That would be less than 1,000 km short of traversing the moon’s entire equatorial circumference. That should quell any concerns about range anxiety, but good luck refuelling it.
Toyota might not be the only automaker running around the moon one day. Earlier this year, Hyundai Motor Group (HGM) announced it had begun building a developmental lunar exploration rover. It plans to have a launch-capable version ready in 2027.
HGM said it would utilise components from its Hyundai and Kia car brands, borrowing electric motors, batteries, suspension bits, cameras, sensors, and more from the company’s passenger vehicles.
General Motors started its moonshot build in early 2022, announcing that it would collaborate with Lockheed Martin on designing a minimalist lunar vehicle for Project Artemis, the US’s project to return to the moon. It showed off a simple, off-road platform for two astronauts and their cargo.
GM’s rover will roll around the moon wearing Goodyear tyres already in development. It’ll have to withstand the harsh lunar environment and be airless. The tire company previously contributed to the 1969 Apollo 11 mission.