The future of automobiles might not be very pretty – at least aesthetically – if Toyota gets its way. At this year's CES, the automotive giant has unveiled the boxy e-Palette Concept as the shape of the firm's future autonomous mobility service. Major companies like Amazon, DiDi, Mazda, Pizza Hut, and Uber have already signed on as partners in this project.
The e-Palette Concept is simply a box on wheels, and Toyota would offer the body in three lengths from 13 feet (4 meters) to 23 feet (7 meters). While this isn't visually interesting, it fits the vehicle's purpose of being extremely versatile. The tall size and lack of curves maximize what can fit into the concept – like Uber packing people inside or Pizza Hut stacking stuffed crust pies to the roof. The partners is free to outfit the interior however they please.
Toyota intends to work with its partners to create a business ecosystem around e-Palette. The vehicle would as the basic building block but be highly scalable.. The companies would be free to create hardware and software to fit their individual needs. The firm's wouldn't even need to use Toyota's self-driving tech, and firms would be free to install their own systems.
Partnering with Toyota on the e-Palette project would come with the advantage of shared data. Each one would send information back to the Toyota Big Data Center, where clients would be able to do tasks like handle payments, monitor the state of the vehicle, or schedule service at Toyota dealers.
Don't look to get your next pizza from an e-Palette, though, because feasibility tests of the boxy vehicle don't begin until 2020. Toyota will even have them at the Olympics in Tokyo that year.
Keep the conversation going in our InsideEVs Forum covering electric cars and green technology. Start a new thread about this article and make your point.
Gallery: Toyota e-Palette Concept
Toyota Launches New Mobility Ecosystem and Concept Vehicle at 2018 CES®
e-Palette Alliance will leverage Toyota’s Global Mobility Services Platform to develop advanced vehicle and related mobility services for business applications
e-Palette Concept Vehicle will be fully autonomous, battery-electric vehicle with open control interface to allow partner companies to install their own automated driving system
Alliance launch partners include Amazon, DiDi, Mazda, Pizza Hut and Uber
January 08, 2018
2018 CES Press Conference Release
LAS VEGAS (January 8, 2018) Toyota Motor Corporation President Akio Toyoda today announced a new mobility service business alliance and e-Palette Concept Vehicle designed to meet the demands of future multi-mode transportation and business applications.
“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.
Unveiled at CES®, the new e-Palette Alliance will leverage Toyota’s proprietary Mobility Services Platform (MSPF) to develop a suite of connected mobility solutions and a flexible, purpose-built vehicle. 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. Launch partners include Amazon, DiDi, Mazda, Pizza Hut and Uber, who will collaborate on vehicle planning, application concepts and vehicle verification activities
In the near term, the Alliance will focus on the development of the new e-Palette Concept Vehicle, also unveiled at CES. The concept reflects one of Toyota’s visions for Automated Mobility as a Service (Autono-MaaS) applications. It is a fully-automated, next generation battery electric vehicle (BEV) designed to be scalable and customizable for a range of Mobility as a Service (MaaS) businesses. What’s more, the e-Palette Concept demonstrates Toyota’s continued commitment to partnership and flexibility.
In addition to supporting the services provided through Toyota’s MSPF, the e-Palette Concept Vehicle’s open vehicle control interface and a set of software tools to allow partner companies to install their own automated driving system and vehicle management technology. When a partner company’s automated driving system is installed, Toyota’s Guardian technology will act as a safety net to help ensure appropriate operation.
Together, the e-Palette Alliance and e-Palette Concept Vehicle reflect Toyota’s continued global momentum in developing and delivering new connected mobility businesses and data services through Toyota Connected, the company’s data analysis and services subsidiary.
The e-Palette Alliance: A New Ecosystem for Mobility-Powered Business
As an emerging provider of mobility hardware and services to business, Toyota is focused on creating new and attractive features for partners that help them to expand their value chain and improve customers’ lives.
The e-Palette Alliance will leverage the power of Toyota’s MSPF to build a new ecosystem for mobility-powered businesses. Announced in 2016, the MSPF is Toyota’s framework for a range of connected vehicle applications, providing a full suite of services needed to support MaaS ranging from vehicle leasing and insurance to fleet management and big data.
e-Palette Alliance service provider partners, including Amazon, DiDi, Pizza Hut, and Uber will explore various applications of the e-Palette Concept and the MSPF to support their existing business needs. DiDi, Mazda and Uber will also join as technology partners.
Toyota continues to discuss the creation of new mobility services with other service providers and technology development companies.
e-Palette Concept Vehicle: An Automated, Electric Vehicle Purpose-Built for MaaS
With the e-Palette Concept, Toyota has built a new approach to Autono-MaaS mobility that will empower Alliance partners to support their customers’ lifestyles with increased convenience, productivity and efficiency.
With its open interior design layout, the vehicle can be outfitted with purpose-built interiors in accordance with the user’s needs, whether it be parcel delivery, ride sharing, or on-the-road e-commerce. Its flexible framework is also designed for usage optimization, allowing the e-Pallet Concept to be shared to support various business needs and transition seamlessly from one application to another. Toyota envisions that the e-Palette Concept will be made available in three sizes, allowing not just need-specific applications, but also right-sized and right-place mobile solutions.
Going forward, e-Palette Alliance partners will be able to leverage the e-Palette Concept in coordination with the full range of MSPF services, or to incorporate the vehicle into their own technology development program. The e-Palette Concept’s design reflects this commitment to flexibility and partnership, with an open control interface and a set of software tools to allow partner companies to mount their own automated driving system as desired.
Toyota plans to conduct feasibility testing of the e-Palette Concept in various regions, including the United States, in the early 2020s. It also hopes to contribute to the success of the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 by providing mobility solutions like the e-Palette and other innovative mobility offerings.
Extensive interior space with a low floor/cube shape design:
There are three sizes of e-Palette Concept, with different lengths* (depending on the purpose-built specification). Thanks to a flat and extensive barrier free interior space layout designed with a low floor, equipment can be installed in accordance with the user’s needs, such as ride sharing specifications, hotel room specifications and retail shopping specifications.
*Lengths vary from 4m to 7m approximately. Dimension of CES 2018 Design model is L 4,800mm, W 2,000mm, H 2,250mm.
Next-Generation vehicle control interface:
Vehicle control technology is being used as an interface for technology providers. Technology providers can receive open Application Programming Interface (API) such as vehicle state and vehicle control, necessary for development of automated driving systems (automated driving control software and cameras/sensors, etc.). The e-Palette Concept also leverages the power of the MSPF to enable over-the-air updates of the automated driving systems.
Vehicle information is gathered from the Data Communication Module (DCM) fitted to the e-Palette Concept and accumulated in the Toyota Big Data Center (TBDC) through a global communication platform. The e-Palette Concept will capitalize on this vehicle information to support a variety of finance options, as well as high-level maintenance in cooperation with Toyota dealers. The API required by service providers, like vehicle state and dynamic management, can be viewed on the MSPF.
Toyota (NYSE:TM) has been a part of the cultural fabric in the U.S. and North America for 60 years, and is committed to advancing sustainable, next-generation mobility through our Toyota and Lexus brands. During that time, Toyota has created a tremendous value chain as our teams have contributed to world-class design, engineering, and assembly of more than 33 million cars and trucks in North America, where we operate 14 manufacturing plants (10 in the U.S.) and directly employ more than 46,000 people (more than 36,000 in the U.S.). Our 1,800 North American dealerships (nearly 1,500 in the U.S.) sold almost 2.7 million cars and trucks (2.45 million in the U.S.) in 2016 – and about 85 percent of all Toyota vehicles sold over the past 15 years are still on the road today.
Toyota partners with community, civic, academic, and governmental organizations to address our society’s most pressing mobility challenges. We share company resources and extensive know-how to support non-profits to help expand their ability to assist more people move more places.
About Toyota Research Institute
Toyota Research Institute is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Toyota Motor North America under the direction of Dr. Gill Pratt. The company, established in 2015 with a $1 billion investment, aims to strengthen Toyota’s research structure and has four initial mandates: 1) enhance the safety of automobiles, 2) increase access to cars to those who otherwise cannot drive, 3) translate Toyota’s expertise in creating products for outdoor mobility into products for indoor mobility, and 4) accelerate scientific discovery by applying techniques from artificial intelligence and machine learning. TRI plans to employ approximately 200 employees and is based in the United States, with offices in Stanford Research Park in Palo Alto, CA (TRI-PAL), in Kendall Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts (TRI-CAM), and in Ann Arbor, Michigan, near the University of Michigan campus (TRI-ANN).
About Toyota Connected, Inc.
Based in Plano, Texas, Toyota Connected, Inc. (TCI) was established in 2016 to drive Toyota’s global efforts for an intelligent mobile society. With big data collected from vehicles and analyzed on a cloud platform, TCI humanizes the driving experience by freeing customers from the tyranny of technology via seamless and contextual services, elevating the customer experience while benefitting dealers, distributors, and partners. Analyzing traffic patterns, driver behavior and connecting drivers with infrastructure and other information is only part of TCI’s work that will open new services and products to keep the car as a beloved companion.