By Steve Laser
Vans of all shapes and sizes have been popular in Japan for decades. This story takes a look back at our visit to the 35th Tokyo Motor Show, where we attended the press days, Oct. 24-25, 2001, at Makuhari Messe in Chiba.
The Toyota display offered previews of its new Noah and Voxy minivans (above) ahead of their launch. These vans continue to be popular today, several generations, and some 22 years later. Toyota was also thinking about the future, and brought a new concept van to the show called DMT.
DMT Dual Mode Traveler
At first glance, the styling of the Toyota DMT concept reminded us of Shinkansen, Japan’s famous “Bullet Train.” The front cabin was elevated, and the exterior presented a futuristic, streamlined appearance.
Toyota described the DMT as a special-purpose cruiser-style van. “Drive Mode” was the term used for the area that surrounded the driver and front seat passenger.
While “Stay Mode” was the name for the cargo area of the van, a space that could be customized to fit the owner’s interests or lifestyles.
This video, from the CarNichiWa.com YouTube channel, offers a compilation of Toyota DMT concept photos that we made during press days at the 35th Tokyo Motor Show.
Since we didn’t have a chance to climb up into the driver’s seat, the above photo (from Toyota) provides a better view of the Drive Mode.
The high seating position gives the driver a great view of the road, while the panoramic sunroof opens wide to let fresh air inside, and a view of the moon and stars at night.
A wide-view monitor, with five separate screens, features on-demand displays that provide driving information and entertainment choices. It’s amazing how this instrument panel design looks similar to some of today’s vehicles, decades later.
While the DMT offers a commanding appearance, its powertrain is positioned beneath the flat floor of the cabin, to help provide a lower center of gravity and stability. DMT features a Toyota BEAMS 2.4-liter gas engine and front-wheel drive.
Stay Mode configurations are only limited by the owner’s imagination. With the low, flat floor the space can be customized with aftermarket equipment. The Drive Mode and Stay Mode could be separated with a partition, while portable steps provide access between the two areas.
The DMT may be transformed into a mobile office, or even a studio for an artist. The above photo shows how the van was customized for display at the show. It’s a nice, relaxing look, with lots of room for gear.
And here’s how the Stay Mode might appear if the owner transformed it into an office space. In addition to all the hardware, the walls, ceiling, floor, and lighting have all been customized.
The DMT concept was designed for the latest ITS functions at the time, including radar cruise control, lane deviation alarm, blind-corner monitor, and reverse monitor with voice directions. It also featured voice-control navigation, and ETC for paying expressway tolls.
Original photos (as marked) © 2001 Steve Laser on location in Chiba, Japan
Additional photos (as marked) courtesy of Toyota Motor Corp.
Story (commentary) © 2023 CarNichiWa.com