Toyota President Akio Toyoda's Announces e-Palette Mobility Platform at CES

Author: Eric Walz   

LAS VEGAS -- Toyota president Akio Toyoda spoke at CES 2018 to announce the company's future plans as it transitions to a smart mobility company.

He said that the the company's Toyota Research Institute is continuing to lead the way at Toyota in the areas of autonomy, robotics and materials science.

"It's my goal to transition Toyota from an automobile company to a mobility company, and the possibilities of what we can build, in my mind, are endless." Toyoda said.

He said he was determined to create new ways to move and connect Toyota customers across the country, across town, or just across the room. "Technology is changing quickly in our industry and the race is on. Our competitors no longer just make cars." He referred to tech companies such as Google, Apple, and Facebook are all working on autonomous driving and smart mobility.

"It's been said that data is the new gold and that software is the key. But I would argue that we're moving from software to the platform as the thing we're all after. It's the platform that will be the backbone for mobility as a service for autonomy, for car sharing, for any number of services that we want to make possible." he said.

In 2016, Toyota formed a partnership with Microsoft in the U.S. called Toyota Connected, to leverage the power of big data for millions of our connected customers around the world.

The company's goal with Toyota Connected was to become just as well-known for the Mobility Services Platform we've developed to manage large fleets of vehicles and all kinds of connected services.

"We want customers to benefit from their data through contextual services we can provide with our Mobility Services Platform. We want the car to be a seamless extension of your phone and computer, a kind of personal assistant on wheels, able to anticipate your needs through predictive artificial intelligence."

Toyota's new Mobility Services Platform is also the engine behind our car sharing test markets in Hawaii and San Francisco.

In the future, much of mobility on demand, or mobility as a service will be powered by autonomy which, in turn, is supported by vehicle electrification.

Today, Toyota offers 37 electrified vehicle models in over 90 countries. By the early 2020's, Toyota will have more than 10 battery electric vehicles available worldwide, and by 2025, every model in the Lexus and Toyota line up will either be electric, or will have an electrified option.

"Now I realize that battery electric, or all electric vehicles, are what everybody's talking about these days. That, and Prince Harry's engagement." he joked.

Today, less than 1% of all vehicles sold in the U.S. are battery electric, so there is much work to be done to increase consumer demand for all electric vehicles.

Toyoda also announced that the company is working on new solid-state battery technology, and he believes that the Toyota will succeed in making them smaller, lighter, and most importantly, for both consumers and automakers, much more affordable.

He said this new form of electrification, combined with our Mobility Services Platform from Toyota Connected, and autonomous technology from TRI, are the key components in our vision of future mobility services and mobility commerce.

e-Pallette

One example of this is a concept Toyota calls e-Palette, a mobility solution for e-commerce retail and beyond. e-Palette is one example of Toyota's vision for an ‘Autono-MaaS' (autonomous mobility-as-a-service) business application. Run out of milk? Customers using e-Pallette vehicle can have it delivered automatically to wherever they are. e-Palette vehicles will be fully electric and will be controlled by Toyota's autonomous Chauffeur mode technology. Or, if they prefer, partner companies can use their own automated driving systems instead.

In either case, e-Palette will include Toyota's Guardian technology, which will act as a safety net. It's an open, flexible platform that can be easily adapted to support a range of uses including ride-sharing, delivery and retail. "Today, you have to travel to the store. In the future, with e-Palette, the store will come to you!", he said.

epallette.jpg

By combining several e-Palettes in one place, businesses or communities can quickly create a mobile hub for services ranging from medical clinics to entertainment and festivals.

And every e-Palette can be reconfigured for a variety of applications within a single day, all managed by our Mobility Services Platform and serviced by our retail network.

Toyoda announced that Toyota is creating an alliance of forward-thinking business partners called the e-Palette Alliance, to support e-commerce mobility.

Toyota is turning its Mobility Services Platform into a common platform for companies to use in building new mobility businesses. Think of it as a kind of plug and play, open platform. Toyota believes that flexibility and open standards are the key to providing the best services to consumers. Toyoda revealed some of its platform partners.

"Today I'm pleased to announce that some of the initial members of our e-Palette Alliance include, Amazon, DiDi, Mazda, Pizza Hut and Uber. We want to thank each of these companies for joining us on our new mobility journey."

Referring to competition from other companies that may result from the open e-Palette Alliance, Toyoda said, "I'm less concerned about getting there first, as I am about getting it right, and about finding ways to use technology to benefit as many as possible. For me, e-Palette is one such example."

Eric Walz
Originally from New Jersey, Eric is an automotive and technology reporter specializing in the high-tech industry in Silicon Valley. Eric has over fifteen years of automotive experience and a B.A. in computer science. These skills, combined with technical writing and news reporting, allows him to fully understand and identify new and innovative technologies in the automotive industry and beyond. He has worked on self-driving cars and as a technical writer, helping people to understand and work with technology. Outside of work, Eric likes to travel to new places, play guitar, and explore the outdoors.
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