TOYOTA has revealed details of a new fully electric autonomous vehicle that can be customised to a business’s needs.
Dubbed the e-Palette Concept Vehicle, it features an open plan, cube-shaped interior that can be adapted for various uses, such as parcel delivery, ride sharing or on-the-road e-commerce.
Toyota says that it’s easy to switch between configurations, meaning one vehicle could be used for various tasks.
Vehicles could even become rolling stores, saving customers from having to travel to shopping centres and high streets – instead, the store goes to them.
The on-board technology will be open to partners in the programme so they can install their own self-driving technology if required, with Toyota’s ‘Guardian’ software in place as a safety net.
The Japanese car maker says that it plans for there to be three sizes available, with the vehicle unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas measuring 4,800mm long, 2,000mm wide and 2,250mm high – considerably larger than a Ford Transit van.
The concept vehicle’s announcement was made alongside news of a new partnership between Toyota and various ‘mobility-powered businesses’, such as Amazon, Pizza Hut and Uber, called e-Palette Alliance.
The partnership will use Toyota’s Mobility Services Platform, which allows for management of various connected vehicles, to manage services useful to mobility-focused companies, including vehicle leasing and insurance, fleet management and big data.
Speaking at CES, Toyota president Akio Toyoda said: “The automobile industry is clearly amid its most dramatic period of change, as technologies such as electrification and connected and automated driving are making significant progress.
“Toyota remains committed to making ever-better cars. Just as important, we are playing 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.”