The second biggest automaker in the world, Toyota Motor Corp., announced at the 2018 Consumer Electrics Show in Las Vegas both the e-Palette concept vehicle and the e-Palette Alliance, a partnership which will see Amazon, Didi, Mazda, Pizza Hut, and Uber collaborate on vehicle planning, application concepts, and vehicle verification activities.
The e-Palette is an automated, electric, flexible vehicle concept by the automaker that can be custom-made to various needs and lifestyles. It is a sleek see-through box-shaped platform with a flat floor and high roof. It will be developed in three different sizes ranging from 13 feet to 23 feet.
The vehicle could be a rolling restaurant, an Amazon delivery van, a mobile store, showroom, hotel room or taxi with its spacious interior. Each vehicle will be purpose-built depending on its use. Toyota plans to build it in time for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. It also plans to test the e-Palette Concept in the U.S. and other countries in the early 2020s.
“E-Palette is one example of Toyota’s vision for autonomous business applications,” said Aiko Toyoda, President of Toyota.
“It’s an open, flexible platform that can be easily adapted to a range of uses.”
At the CES, a video rendered a scene where a customer walking into an e-Palette mobile show store. After picking a pair from the wall of selections, the figure walked out of the shuttle and paid wirelessly for the item purchased.
“Today, you have to travel to the store,” Toyoda said. “In the future, with e-Palette, the store will come to you.”
The e-Palette utilizes an open interface that lets customers install their preferred automated driving system and vehicle management technology.
Toyota’s Mobility Service Platform will host the set of services and develop an ecosystem of business users.
According to Toyoda, the company is also looking to build a solid-state battery technology. Solid-state batteries create power from a solid energy source rather than the liquid in current lithium-ion batteries. The technology vows to make the batteries smaller, lighter, and more affordable.
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