With its versatile concept e-Palette put on display at CES, Toyota gives an idea of its vision of future mobility. The adaptable vehicle – of course, all-electric and autonomous – can be transformed into many different vehicle types. An alliance shall help to develop the vehicle.
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Toyota considers the e-Palette as its new approach to Automated Mobility as a Service (Autono-MaaS) mobility. The concept can be used as a minibus for passenger transport, a transporter for goods deliveries, a mobile office, a rolling surgery, and many more.
First trials are scheduled for 2020 – among others in the course of the Olympic Games in Tokyo. To boost up the development of the concept vehicle, Toyota has launched a network called e-Palette Alliance. Launch partners are Amazon, DiDi, Uber and Pizza Hut.
Update 22 December 2020: With Covid keeping most of the world in check, Toyota never came round to try its shuttle technology at the Tokyo Olympics. However, the company says it will go ahead when (and if) the Games begin in July 2021.
At the same time, Toyota has other trials and use cases lined up with the e-Palette. The company is also planning to run the vehicles in Woven City, a “fully connected prototype city” in Japan. It is targeting commercial use in multiple areas and regions in the early 2020s.
Toyota says the idea is to realise mobility services that “go to where it is needed, when needed, and on time”. The same goes for goods, and the company has developed an operations management system based on the Toyota Production System (TPS) ideology. This operations management system will also be assigned to the e-Palette and its various functions in future.
The recent announcement also mentions unspecified partners, but Toyota did not name such high-level players like Amazon or Didi again as they did at the initial launch as above.
Additional reporting by Nora Manthey.
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