Motoramic

Toyota Camatte concept car offers children a chance to drive

Justin Hyde
Motoramic

Certain corners of the auto industry fret over future generations, worrying whether today's children will ever care about cars not in a video game the way current generations do. To help get kids excited about cars, Toyota unveiled this concept vehicle at a Tokyo toy show today -- a three-seater called the Camatte that's so kid-friendly, it's designed to let them drive.

Toyota says the Camatte's plastic body panels were designed so that families could have fun taking them off and putting them back on, while educating youngsters about the basics of how cars work and, one can only assume, why mean people sometimes point and laugh. The three-seat layout puts a single parent in front with the youngsters in back, because all siblings and parents love to ride snug with each other for long car rides.

Toyota adds that the Camatte's pedals and seats can be adjusted to the point where a child can steer and hit the accelerator -- while an adult in the rear right seat "assists steering and braking and helps the child develop driving skills" on places such as go-kart tracks. Toyota didn't release any details about what powers the Camatte, but given its shorter than a Scion iQ, anything more than a wind-up spring should be enough power.

It's just a concept, and I'm sure many executives at Toyota realize actually building a car for kids to drive sounds like Dan Aykroyd's classic "SNL" skit showing how children can learn about prisms with his "Bag O'Glass" shards. Yet the Camatte is about the size of several other ultra-mini city car ideas, like the T27 imagined by former McLaren designer Gordon Murray, and there's always an underserved need for basic, cheap transportation. It's not what most adults would drive, but something similar could be what today's youth in a few tomorrows.

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