Using the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) as a showcase, Toyota revealed an ambitious new electric vehicle to be built in three different sizes and drive their push into the autonomous market.
The vehicle is being called the e-Palette, and while it is primarily meant to utilize Toyota’s own technologies, the company notes it has a certain flexibility to allow other companies, be it purchasing or leasing it, to host their own preferred automated-driving system. For Toyota, though, the car also represents a key alliance in development of mobility-as-a-service between them, Amazon, Didi, Mazda, Pizza Hut, and Uber, with vehicle planning, application concepts and vehicle verification activities all on the agenda.
“This announcement marks a major step forward in our evolution towards sustainable mobility, demonstrating our continued expansion beyond traditional cars and trucks to the creation of new values—including services—for customers,” Akio Toyoda, Toyota president and board member, said.
Part of the vehicle’s allure is meant to be its quick interior transition capabilities. It is highly moddable, meant to be adapted to nearly any use. It does, however, come with Toyota’s overarching Guardian safety-driven architecture, so that while the car’s controls can be altered, a safety net remains. It will also be utilizing the Mobility Services Platform (MSPF) to play a part in a web of connected-vehicle services and data logging. These include vehicle leasing services and insurance, as well as fleet and big data management–the latter being a key revenue stream Toyota hopes to tap into in the coming years.
“The new alliance will create a broad-based ecosystem of hardware and software support designed to help a range of companies utilize advanced mobility technology to better serve customers,” Toyota said in a release.
Feasibility testing will take place in the early 2020s, though Toyota also announced its hopes to see the car focused at the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo.