Toyota wants to send a Land Cruiser to the Moon

Toyota Motor Corporation announced Thursday that the manned pressurized rover they are working with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) will be known as the “Luner Cruiser.” The name was chosen references the Toyota Land Cruiser SUV.

Last year Toyota and JAXA revealed they have been conducting joint research on a manned, pressurized lunar rover that uses fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) technologies that they hope can be launched late this decade. Currently work is ongoing to manufacture test parts for each technological element, and the prototype rover itself. The work involves the use of simulations to confirm power and heat dissipation performance while driving, the manufacture and assessment of prototype tires, and the use of virtual reality and full-scale models to consider the layout of equipment in the cabin of the Lunar Cruiser.

JAXA wants to acquire data with the Lunar Cruiser related to driving technologies to develop a manned, pressurized lunar rover. The rover will be used for missions to explore the moon’s polar regions, with the aim both of investigating the possibility of using the moon’s resources―such as frozen water―and of acquiring technologies that enable exploration of the surfaces of massive heavenly bodies.

According to a timeline released by the team, the launch is tentatively scheduled for 2029.

Tentative plan aiming to launch the lunar rover in 2029:

  • 2022
    Manufacture and evaluation of a 1:1 scale prototype rover; acquisition and verification testing of data on driving systems required to explore the moon’s polar regions
  • 2024
    Design, manufacture, and evaluation of an engineering model of the rover; design of the actual flight model
  • 2027
    Manufacture, and performance and quality testing of the flight mode


Greg Engle