Toyota unveiled the concept E-Palette on CES 2018. Sounds like a cargo vehicle, and that's not so wrong — this is a kind of an autonomous delivery van. It could be used as a van, mobile office, doctor's office, game room, hotel room or minibus.
"Today you have to drive to the store, tomorrow the shop will come to you", company boss Akio Toyoda outlined another example of usage at the CES technology fair in Las Vegas. The vehicles can be connected to groups and reconfigured again and again. They should make their debut at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
The main idea is shown by the illustrious list of industry partners that Toyota won for the idea. The "E-Pallet alliance" included the online retailer Amazon, the car brokers Uber and Didi Chuxing from China, the restaurant chain Pizza Hut and Mazda. The technology for autonomous driving in the E-Palette can come from Toyota — or from other suppliers.
"The race has started," said Toyoda in view of the rapid change of the car industry with new competitors. "The companies like Google, Apple and even Facebook keep me awake at night," said the 61-year-old. "It's my goal to turn Toyota from a carmaker into a mobility provider." That opens up endless possibilities for the company.
With the E-Pallet Toyota wants to create a platform. This is a key element for the future: The platform will be the basis for all services from autonomous driving to rides. Toyota also wants to help the E-Pallet customers manage their fleets and provide them with communications services, among other things.