Toyota e-Palette concept: a big mobility idea with a big partner lineup
...we are developing mobility solutions to help everyone enjoy their lives, and we are doing our part to create an ever-better society for the next 100 years and beyond.
Toyota has used the big forum that is the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas to show off the e-Palette mobility concept, along with its equally big roster of start-up partners for its e-Palette Alliance.
The e-Palette Concept is a mobility ecosystem. On the ground are fully connected and automated, battery electric vehicles, in lengths varying from four metres to seven metres. The vehicles will be modular, with a low, obstruction-free floor to allow equipment to be installed that will allow the vehicle to be configured for ride sharing, mobile hotel rooms, retail shopping, or parcel delivery, as a few examples. A subsidiary vehicle is also envisaged, an automated robot delivery module, to carry goods the ‘last mile’, from a parked larger e-Palette vehicle to the actual delivery location.
The e-Palette Alliance
Overlaying the ‘box on wheels’ and its automated driving kit and Data Communication Module is Toyota’s Mobility Services Platform, and the Toyota Big Data Center, allowing partners and customers to configure, control, and track their vehicles. Speaking of partners, Toyota has announced some rather big ones for the concept launch — Amazon, DiDi, Mazda, Pizza Hut and Uber, aka the e-Palette Alliance. In addition to having vehicles configured for their purpose, partners are also able to install their own automated driving software.
The design will also allow the vehicles to be fluidly configured – for example, an individual vehicle could be a mobile retail store in the morning, and then reconfigured as a bare-bones delivery vehicle by night.
What we have here is a prime example of how car companies are looking to stay competitive and profitable in the connected and automated vehicle age. Hardware, software, fleet management, and probably most important of all something iMOVE sees as crucial in this space, partnerships.
100 years and beyond
“The automobile industry is clearly amidst its most dramatic period of change as technologies like electrification, connected and automated driving are making significant progress. Toyota remains committed to making ever better cars. Just as important, we are developing mobility solutions to help everyone enjoy their lives, and we are doing our part to create an ever-better society for the next 100 years and beyond. 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”, said Akio Toyoda, president of the Toyota Motor Corporation.
When *might* we see the Toyota e-Palette in action?
At this point Toyota and its partners hope to have e-Palette concept vehicles trialled in various places around the world in the early 2020s. Toyota is also hoping to have the concept up as a trial at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
UPDATE: 18 October 2019 – e-Palette vehicles at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics
Toyota will have up to 20 ‘Tokyo 2020 Version’ e-Palette vehicles in operation for athletes at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.
‘Throughout the development process, athletes, especially Paralympians, helped us to better understand how we could adapt and upgrade the e-Palette to better meet the need for simple, convenient and comfortable mobility. We are proud to work with them on a vehicle that will not just move athletes physically throughout the Olympic and Paralympic villages, but will also offer them new opportunities to interact with others, share new experiences, and be moved emotionally,’ said Takahiro Muta, development leader for the Tokyo 2020 Version e-Palette vehicles.