This is What Your Mobility Future Will Look Like, According to Toyota [News]

Toyota Announces Mobility Ecosystem and Concept

The automotive landscape is changing.

We’re now living in a time where simple facelifts covering aging technology just isn’t enough to survive. Numbered are the days where automakers can get by updating their cars every few years. These aren’t new revelations, of course, but its remarkable when you consider just how quickly things are changing. For over a century, the concept of the “car” has remained broadly the same. Sure, safety, comfort and efficiency have come on by leaps and bounds. But at the end of the day, your ordinary car has an engine and four wheels. Recently, technology has advanced at such a pace as to almost render the conventional car a relic.

These days, it’s becoming more about “mobility systems” and connectivity between a vehicle and its surroundings, rather than individual vehicles. Automakers, such as Toyota, have caught onto this seismic shift in the industry as technological advances continue to mount. To that end, Toyota Motor Corporation President Akio Toyoda announced a new business alliance to create

Toyota Announces Mobility Ecosystem and Concept
Toyota is partnering with several companies in a business alliance to tackle multi-modal business transportation solutions. [Photo: Toyota]

Meet the e-Palette Concept

In pursuit of a sustainable “mobility ecosystem”, Toyota partnered with Amazon, DiDi, Mazda, Pizza Hut and Uber. In the short-term, they’ve come together to build a car – the e-Palette Concept Vehicle. On display at CES 2018, this vehicle is supposed to represent a next-generation battery electric vehicle that’s scalable for a variety of business applications. Toyota announced its Mobility Services Platform (MSPF) in 2016 to support businesses that may want this sort of technology.

The concept itself has an open interior design, and can also be fitted with purpose-built interiors and driving systems. The latter is available with the help of services provided through Toyota’s MSPF. That includes the e-Palette’s control interface and software tools.

Toyota Announces Mobility Ecosystem and Concept
A diagram showing Toyota’s MSPF and vehicle interface. [Photo: Toyota]
Businesses that spring for the e-Palette Concept get a series of mobility service tools, as well as a safeguard to ensure everything runs smoothly. Toyota’s “Guardian” technology will integrate into the vehicle’s controls to facilitate smooth operations. The data feeding the MSPF and the platform’s Guardian capability come through Toyota Connected, the company’s data analysis subsidiary.

What does all this mean for a “mobility ecosystem”?

In the long-term, the alliance’s primary focus is the concept of “Mobility as a Service”, or MaaS. With this concept car and by way of its partnership with other companies, Toyota wants to create not just a vehicle, but a whole mobility network. That way, businesses can run more efficiently, and their customers’ lifestyles improve in turn.

Toyota Announces Mobility Ecosystem and Concept
A diagram of Toyota’s Mobility Services Platform, showing its potential applications in a larger “mobility ecosystem”. [Photo: Toyota]
For fleets, the information gathered from the e-Palette’s Data Control Module (DCM) could be valuable to improve efficiency. You won’t have to rely on Pizza-faced Pete’s sense of direction to get your Pizza Hut order in under an hour. You won’t have to hope that, by the time he figures out the way to your house, your pizza isn’t a cold, congealed mess. Instead, Pizza Hut can load up these vehicles and send them out to hangry customers instead. Amazon can load up the e-Palette to deliver packages to anxious, click-happy consumers (like me).

Toyota touts the e-Palette and the alliance that created it as an evolution toward sustainable mobility. They’re moving beyond traditional cars and trucks to create smart, efficient solutions for customers. Are you ready for Toyota’s vision of the future? They’re planning to officially debut these boxes on wheels at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

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